Tennis Elbow: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Causes Tennis Elbow

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is an overuse condition affecting the muscles in the forearm; mainly the muscles used to extend the wrist. This condition is common in tennis players; however, it’s not only tennis players who are affected by tennis elbow, this condition is due to repetitive strain on the muscles. The technical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis, this is because the muscles affected attach to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is caused by damage to the tendon that connects the muscles of the forearm to the bone in the upper arm. These muscles control wrist extension allowing the wrist to be extended backwards.

Tennis elbow can occur from overuse of the wrist and forearm due to many repetitive activities such as tennis, painting, gardening and other racquet sports. Other causes of tennis elbow include repetitive work activities such as computer use, carpentry, plumbing and butchery.

What Are the Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow causes pain on the outside of the elbow and upper forearm. Other symptoms may include:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Arm weakness or stiffness
  • Certain wrist movements may cause pain

What Are the Treatments for Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow often doesn’t heal without good advice and management. Certain movements that cause pain should be reduced and specific exercises should be added to aid with recovery. Pain relievers and ice to the tendon can be helpful in conjunction with an appropriate management plan.

If symptoms aren’t improving and pain persists, it is advisable to see a physiotherapist. Physio for tennis elbow is an effective way to relieve symptoms and strengthen the muscles in the arm to reduce pain in the elbow.

Physio for tennis elbow may involve hands-on treatment such as manual techniques and/or dry needling. A physiotherapist may also use exercises to treat tennis elbow to strengthen the forearm muscles and reduce pain. Sometimes a brace is used to relieve pain in the short term, however, this is not a substitute for exercise treatment.

How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Tennis Elbow?

An accurate diagnosis for tennis elbow is essential to receive the most effective treatment plan. A physiotherapist can accurately assess and diagnose the cause of arm pain clinically and provide the best treatment plan. You will often be asked a few questions by your physiotherapist to determine the cause of the pain and a physical examination will determine the nature and severity of the injury. X-rays are occasionally necessary if there has been some trauma associated with the presenting injury and if the physiotherapist is suspicious of bony injury.

How can you Prevent Tennis Elbow?

Preventing tennis elbow for tennis players involves ensuring the use of suitable equipment, such as using the correct grip. Also, it is worth keeping a close eye on training load and ensuring adequate forearm strength. Using an elbow strap or brace during games may help if symptoms are beginning to develop. Other preventative measures for both tennis players and other sports include avoiding repetitive motions and ensuring regular rest breaks. Listening to your body when warning signs arise is an important part of avoiding a long term injury.

Tennis elbow is a common injury due to the range of repetitive activities that people perform in sport, home and in their occupation. Tennis elbow can affect tennis players as well as anyone performing repetitive activities. Physio for tennis elbow is an effective treatment which helps to strengthen the forearm muscles and provides manual therapy to reduce pain. By moderating repetitive activities, using the correct technique and form when exercising and taking regular rest breaks, the risk of tennis elbow can be reduced.