What is Tennis Elbow: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment(2023)

What is Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition that causes pain and discomfort in the outer part of the elbow and forearm. It’s not limited to just tennis players; anyone who repeatedly uses their forearm muscles can develop this condition. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into what is tennis elbow?, including its causes, treatment options, and effective self-care techniques.

Understanding Tennis Elbow

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a musculoskeletal condition characterized by pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. The condition occurs due to overuse and strain of the forearm muscles and tendons, leading to microscopic tears in the tendon that attaches to the lateral epicondyle (the bony bump on the outer part of the elbow).

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow presents a range of symptoms that can impact daily activities.

  • Pain and Tenderness: Individuals with tennis elbow experience pain and tenderness on the outer elbow, which may radiate down the forearm.
  • Weak Grip: Weakened grip strength is a common symptom, making it difficult to perform tasks that involve gripping or lifting.
  • Painful Movements: Activities such as shaking hands, lifting objects, or even turning a doorknob can trigger pain.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness and discomfort may be felt in the elbow joint, especially after periods of rest.
  • Worsening Pain: Symptoms often worsen over time, making early intervention crucial.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is primarily caused by repetitive motions and overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons. Some contributing factors include:

What Causes Tennis Elbow?
  • Repetitive Activities: Engaging in repetitive actions like playing tennis, typing, painting, or using hand tools can strain the tendons.
  • Incorrect Technique: Poor form during physical activities can increase the risk of developing tennis elbow.
  • Age and Gender: Individuals aged 30 to 50 are more susceptible, and it’s slightly more common in men than women.
  • Occupational Factors: Certain occupations, such as plumbers, carpenters, and butchers, involve repetitive movements that can lead to tennis elbow.

Diagnosing Tennis Elbow

A tennis elbow diagnosis involves a thorough assessment by a medical professional. They will consider your symptoms and medical history and may perform imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI to rule out other conditions.

Treating Tennis Elbow

Effective treatment strategies for tennis elbow include:

Treating Tennis Elbow
  • Rest and Ice: Resting the affected arm and applying ice can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Physical Therapy: Targeted exercises and stretches can strengthen forearm muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Bracing: Wearing a brace or splint can provide support and reduce strain on the affected tendons.
  • Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In severe cases, a corticosteroid injection may be administered to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Shockwave Therapy: This non-invasive treatment uses shockwaves to stimulate healing and reduce pain.
  • Surgery: Surgical intervention is rare but may be considered if other treatments are ineffective.

Preventing Tennis Elbow

Prevention is key to avoiding tennis elbow.

  • Proper Technique: Ensure correct form and technique during physical activities to minimize strain on the tendons.
  • Regular Breaks: Take breaks during repetitive tasks to give your forearm muscles time to rest.
  • Strength and Flexibility: Engage in regular exercises that strengthen forearm muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Ergonomic Tools: Use ergonomic tools that reduce strain on the tendons during work or activities.

Tennis Elbow Strap: A Supportive Solution

What is a Tennis Elbow Strap?

A tennis elbow strap is a wearable accessory designed to alleviate pain and reduce strain on the affected tendons. It applies targeted pressure to the forearm muscles, redistributing forces away from the inflamed area.

Tennis Elbow Strap: A Supportive Solution

How to Use a Tennis Elbow Strap

  1. Positioning: Place the strap just below the elbow joint, where you feel the most pain.
  2. Adjustment: Ensure a snug fit without cutting off circulation. You should feel comfortable with compression.
  3. Usage: Wear the strap during activities that trigger pain, such as typing, lifting, or playing sports.
  4. Consistency: Regular usage, especially during repetitive motions, can contribute to better results.

Choosing the Right Strap

When selecting a tennis elbow strap, consider factors such as fit, adjustability, and the level of compression needed. It’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

KT Tape for Tennis Elbow

Exploring KT Tape

KT Tape, or kinesiology tape, is a flexible adhesive tape used to support muscles and joints. It can help reduce pain and provide stability to the affected area.

Application of KT Tape for Tennis Elbow

  1. Preparation: Clean and dry the skin around the affected area.
  2. Measurement: Cut the desired length of KT tape, ensuring it covers the painful region.
  3. Anchoring: Apply one end of the tape without stretching, securing it to the upper forearm.
  4. Stretching: Gently stretch the tape to 50–80% of its full stretch and apply it over the painful area.
  5. Anchoring (again): Secure the other end without stretching, anchoring it to the lower forearm.

KT tape can be worn for several days, providing ongoing support as you go about your daily activities.

Benefits and Limitations

KT tape can offer temporary relief by enhancing circulation and reducing strain. However, it’s important to note that its effects may vary, and it should be used in conjunction with other treatment strategies.

Tennis Elbow Self-Care Techniques

-Rest and Modification of Activities

Rest is crucial to allowing the tendons to heal. Modifying activities that exacerbate the condition can prevent further irritation.

-Ice and Heat Therapy

Applying ice can help reduce inflammation, while heat therapy promotes relaxation and improved blood flow. Alternate between the two for optimal results.

-Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can aid in rehabilitation. Eccentric exercises, where the muscle lengthens under tension, are particularly beneficial.

Professional Treatment Options

-Physical Therapy

Physical therapy involves targeted exercises and techniques to strengthen the forearm muscles, improve flexibility, and promote healing.

-Medications for Pain Relief

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to manage pain and inflammation. Consult a healthcare provider before use.

-Corticosteroid Injections

In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered to reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief. However, these injections are not a long-term solution.

How Long Does a Tennis Elbow Last?

-Typical Recovery Timeline

The recovery timeline for tennis elbow varies from person to person. Mild cases may improve within a few weeks, while more severe cases could take several months.

-Factors Affecting Healing

Factors such as age, overall health, adherence to treatment, and the severity of the injury can influence the healing process.

Tennis Elbow vs. Golf Elbow

-Understanding the Differences

While tennis elbow affects the outer part of the elbow, golf elbow, or medial epicondylitis, causes pain on the inner side. They have distinct causes and areas of inflammation.

Tennis Elbow vs. Golf Elbow

-Similarities in Symptoms and Causes

Both conditions are overuse injuries caused by repetitive wrist and forearm movements. They share symptoms like pain, weakness, and a limited range of motion.

Preventing Tennis Elbow

-Proper Technique and Form

Using the correct technique during activities can significantly reduce the risk of developing tennis elbow. Maintain good posture and avoid excessive wrist extension.

-Equipment Considerations

Using equipment with appropriate grip sizes and characteristics can reduce strain on the forearm muscles. Ergonomic tools and sporting gear can make a difference.

-Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Prioritize warming up before engaging in activities and cooling down afterward. Dynamic stretches and gentle exercises can prepare the muscles for movement and aid recovery.

Managing Recurrence

-Strategies to Avoid Relapse

To prevent tennis elbow from recurring, continue practicing proper technique, using supportive aids when necessary, and engaging in regular strengthening exercises.

-When to Seek Medical Help Again

If symptoms persist or worsen despite self-care efforts, consult a healthcare professional. They can assess the condition and recommend further treatment options.


Tennis elbow can be a challenging condition, but with the right approach, it is manageable and treatable. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and various treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps to alleviate pain, promote healing, and prevent future occurrences.


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