Sports, Pain​ & ​

Regenerative Institute

Tennis Elbow Q & A

Tennis elbow, which is also referred to as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that can occur in anyone, not just tennis players. Golfers have also reported problems with their elbows when attempting to perform backswings as have construction workers who tighten screws daily by using a screwdriver.


Causes of Tennis Elbow

This affliction is the result of inflammation that occurs along the tendons, specifically those that connect to the carpi extensor radialis brevis, which in turn attach to the external bony portion of your elbow. Those that perform repeat movements involving the wrist may experience this condition, because the forearm tendons could eventually become strained.


Activities that place great pressure on the wrist include painting, golf, hedge clipping, tennis or any construction work that involves daily use of either a screwdriver or hammer. The condition is most likely to occur in those that use poor technique, especially amateur tennis players that use 1 handed backhands with incorrect form, or a forehand swing which is late and that bends their wrist substantially. Another bad tennis habit is snapping and twisting one’s wrist when serving at maximum power.


Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

In some instances, tennis elbow will require a visit to a doctor. An appointment should be made if you’re not sure what is causing the pain or you’re noticing other issues. Typical symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Tenderness in the external portion of your elbow
  • Soreness in your forearm muscles
  • Elbow stiffness and aching especially in the morning
  • Elbow pain worsens whenever you hold or grab objects


Treatment of Tennis Elbow

Generally, tennis elbow does not cause serious problems, unless you’re a professional golfer or tennis player, whose livelihood depends on strong elbows, arms and wrists. In that case you will want immediate and specialized care. If you notice that the pain is restricting your daily routine, or that your hands have become numb or the pain is not subsiding regardless of rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications, then a visit to your doctor might be needed.


During your physical examination the doctor will inspect your elbow and joints. The skin, muscles, nerves and bones will also be evaluated. X-rays might be also be necessary if the doctor believes there is another problem with your elbow joint. A study of the nerve may be undertaken to identify radial nerve entrapment if the symptoms are particularly aggressive.


For treatment, many physicians will suggest using a splint or elbow strap so that pressure is removed from the tendon that is inflamed. Corticosteroid injections are also used. Professional athletes usually work closely with physical therapists who help them develop various exercises that are designed to strengthen and increase the flexibility of the muscles in their forearm.


These physical exercises are combined with cold applications which are designed to speed up and maximize recovery. Equally important, physical therapy is designed to help patients prevent recurrent injury by avoiding the bad habits that led to it in the first place.