What is tennis elbow and symptoms of tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow causes pain on the outer side of your elbow. Medical term for tennis elbow has traditionally been ‘lateral epicondylitis’. This is because the pain is felt in the area of the lateral epicondyle (the lower, outer, bumpy part of your humorous bone in your upper arm). The ‘itis’ means inflammation. However, it is now hard that tennis elbow does not involve inflammation, so this term is being used less.

Most of people with tennis elbow, the pain only occurs when they use their forearm and wrist, for twisting movements and angles such as turning a door handle, opening a jar or opening a screw. However, for some people the pain is constant; it occurs at rest and can affect their sleep. The pain may move down from your elbow towards your wrist. It may difficult for you to hold items such as a knife or fork, a cup or a pen, or to straighten your arm fully. Some people also notice stiffness in the affected arm.

Causes of tennis elbow?

The site of the pain in tennis elbow is where some arteries from your forearm muscles attach to the bone around your elbow. The pain is occurs by swelling or thickening of the tendon, and eventually degeneration.

This damage is usually occurs by overuse of your forearm muscles in repeated actions such as washing clothes or manual work (particularly with twisting movements such as using a screwdriver). Playing tennis can also cause tendon injuries. However, despite being called tennis elbow, racquet sports are only thought to be the cause in about 2 in 35 cases. In most people, tennis elbow affects the arm that you write with (your dominant arm).

How tennis elbow diagnosed?

Doctor can mostly diagnose tennis elbow by talking to you about your activities and by see condition of your arms. You will experience pain when the doctor examines the outer part of your elbow. Your doctor also asks you to move your wrist, as this will usually bring on your pain.

Tests are not needed to diagnose tennis elbow. However, if after some time your tennis elbow is not improving, your doctor suggests you to visit a specialist. The specialist may suggest few tests such as an (X-ray or an MRI scan).

Treatment options for tennis elbow.

Alternative activities which brings your symptoms

You will be able to know which movements bring on your pain and you should try to avoid all these movements as much as you can. Basically, pain occurs worse by lifting, gripping and twisting movements by the affected arm. Relaxing from those activities that bring on pain can help the tendon wound to heal. Some people, just modifying their activities and cutting out repetitive movements of the arm.

You need to discuss with your doctor or your employer if you feel that your job may be becoming cause of your tennis elbow. There may be different works that you can do at job while your tennis elbow is healing. It is also important for everyone to take breaks when they are working.

Pain relief

Ice cubes can be a good pain relief if you have tennis elbow. Try using an ice pack (such as a pack of ice cubes wrapped in a towel or clothe) on the tender area two times a day for ten minutes.

Painkillers such as panadol or paracetamol, without codeine added, may be helpful.

Also, antipyretic painkillers such as ibuprofen are mostly used to relief pain in tennis elbow. Some antipyretic painkillers also available in market as creams or gels which you can rub over your painful elbow. These can be drawn to produce not many side-effects than those taken by mouth. There are different brands which you can buy, or obtain on prescription.

The evidence proposes, however, that these painkillers do not improve the condition in the long term. They also have side-effects.


Physiotherapy has been present to be helpful in the treatment of tennis elbow. Your physiotherapist may be use different techniques such as massage, laser therapy and ultra-sound therapy as well as exercises to tackle your tennis elbow. It is not sure if any one of these physiotherapy treatments is better than others.

Studies have allow that physiotherapy may not be as good as a steroid injection at reduce pain in the short term (that is, within the first six weeks). But, it may be higher-up to steroid injections in the long term. However, there may be a wait for your physiotherapy appointment.

Can tennis elbow be intercepted?

You often cannot avoid a sudden overuse of the arm, which can source tennis elbow. However, if you increase the power of your forearm muscles, it may help to intercept a further session of tennis elbow in the future. The aim is to exercise and make the muscles strong but to avoid twisting movements. It is best to see a physiotherapist for guidance on how to make strong your forearm muscles.

If your tennis elbow has been brought on by playing some kind of sport, seek guidance from a professional coach about your technique, racquet grip size, etc. If it has been brought on by a monotonous action at work, a physiotherapist may be able to guide. They may be able to suggest how to avoid it recurring in future.