Tennis Elbow 101: Full Guide, definition, causes, Symptoms

Tennis Elbow 101: Full Guide, definition, causes, Symptoms

Tennis elbow is one of the most common injuries in the world, this injury is not related especially to tennis sport, it can hit anyone weather in work or just doing daily tasks.

Are you struggling with this condition, don’t worry there are a lot of solutions and treatment that we are going to talk about in this article.

Trust me after reading this article you will be able to prevent this injury or find the perfect treatment for it if you already have it.

 What is Tennis Elbow?

 What is Tennis Elbow?


Tennis elbow is a condition of a pain in the elbow caused by small tears of the tendons that attach forearm muscles to the arm bone at the elbow joint.

Tennis players are not the only ones that can have the tennis elbow, it’s a general condition that can happen to athletes and non-athletes. 

It appears more in men than women, and most frequently affects people between the ages of 25 and 60. more than 75% of the cases occur in the dominant arm.

Tennis Elbow Symptoms 

Tennis Elbow Symptoms

The most common symptoms of tennis elbow are:

  • nagging pain on the outside of the elbow that is aggravated by lifting and gripping
  • Pain starts at the elbow, and it may increase to hit the forearm 
  • Pain and Weakness in the forearm and wrist, or even the hand.
  • ordeal doing routine tasks, like holding a coffee cup or throwing a ball 
  • rigidity in the elbow.
  • Pain shaking hands.

These symptoms can develop gradually over weeks or months.

Although it can also occur suddenly as a result of bad use of a tennis racket or some other activities. 

Pain can be highly erratic too, it depends on the degree of the injury, and it can range from very mild to severe and debilitating.

Tennis Elbow causes 

Tennis Elbow causes 

The main cause of this injury is the repetitive construction and the bad use of the forearm muscle, continuing those tasks can make the injury worse.

Normally in people who have weak shoulders, the stresses of upper limb activity like playing a shot in tennis are transmitted more to the elbow and wrist, and that usually leads to the tennis elbow.

Having a weak forearm can increase the chance to get a tennis elbow, especially if you do some new tasks that you are not used to.

It’s also caused some times by knocking or banging your elbow.

The smart thing you can do is to stop your activity once you have the symptoms of the injury. 

It has multiple other causes like :

  • Playing tennis with a bad technique.
  • Using some hand tools like hammers.
  • Painting and gardening activities 
  • Cutting with knives
  • Practicing some self-defense and Martial Arts for the first time like Aikido
  • Bad use of gym dumbbells 
  • Training with overweight

Risk factors

  • Age: Tennis elbow can affect people of all ages, but it’s most common in aged people between 35 and 60 
  • Job and occupation: People who have jobs with repetitive tasks like gardening, have more chance to get tennis elbow 
  • DIY or sporting activities: doing some DIY(do it yourself) sports like bodybuilding and calisthenics and also racket sports like tennis increase the chance of getting this injury mainly if you play with a bad technique

How Is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?

How Is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?

Before the examination, Your doctor might ask you a couple of questions about your job and your daily activities to know if you practice some tasks with repetitive motions he could also ask if you have some nerve disease.

Usually, your medical history and the basic physical exam provide quite enough information for your doctor to make a diagnosis of tennis elbow.

Your doctor may press the affected area or demand you to move your elbow, wrist, and fingers in different ways during the physical exam, to see where it hurts.

If your doctor suspects that something else may be the cause of your pain, he might take some imaging tests like X-rays or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

How Can a Physical Therapist Help You With Tennis Elbow? 

how can a physical therapist help you with tennis elbow

As I mentioned in a previous paragraph, after you feel the pain in your elbow, you must stop activities with repetitive motions. After that, use 10 to 15-minute ice treatments and finally use bandages or supports to rest your elbow .before your physical therapist decide either you should use a brace while the area is healing 

Your physical therapist can determine whether you need another treatment such as cortisone injection or even surgery, he can also refer to another health care provider in case you need some further testing or medication.

your physical therapist can prescribe some exercises and other movements for you to practice at home, that you will help you speed up your recovery 

Manual therapy is a great way to improve your ability to move, it enables your joints and muscles to make a good range of motion with less pain. It can also help you improve your muscle’s strength to manage your elbow condition. 


When To Call a Doctor about Tennis Elbow? 

When To Call a Doctor about Tennis Elbow? 

Tennis elbow might get worse over time if you left it without treatment.

So after having the symptoms, it is essential to do some home treatment immediately, if your condition doesn’t get any better, it may be the time for you to get a medical appointment.

Remember, it’s crucial to treat it as early as possible.

How to prepare for your appointment?

After getting a doctor appointment, you may prepare some answers for a couple questions such as :

  • When did you begin feeling the symptoms? 
  • Did you ever have surgery in your elbow area? 
  • Do you take some medications or supplements

Tennis Elbow Treatment 

Tennis Elbow Treatment

Treatment usually starts by resting the elbow and quitting the movement for a while. A brace might be of help, but the pain usually comes back.

The treatment starts by quitting the repetitive movements immediately and using support or a brace to rest your muscles. 

Surgical Treatment

Before talking about Surgical treatment, you need to know that the chance to have a successful tennis elbow surgery is greater than 85%. 

So you don’t have anything to worry about.

Open surgery

The final solution if your elbow condition doesn’t get better after 6 months to one year of treatment is surgery to remove compromised tissue after the surgery rehabilitation exercises are essential to speed up the recovery process.

Arthroscopic surgery.

In this type of surgery, your doctor might use tiny cuts to repair the problems inside your joint. 

First, he inserts a small camera called an arthroscope into your elbow to take pictures of your damaged area, and he uses those images to lead the surgery process.

To learn more about Arthroscopic surgery.

Open surgery vs Arthroscopic surgery

In the Arthroscopic surgery, your doctor uses tiny cuts instead of the large incisions used in open surgery.

Arthroscopic surgery can be less painful for patients than in open surgery.

The recovery process can be faster in Arthroscopic surgery than open surgery.

Surgical risks 

Most people get well after the elbow surgery, but like all types of surgeries, multiple risks can happen in rare cases like:

  • Infection
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Possible prolonged rehabilitation
  • Loss of strength
  • Loss of flexibility
  • The need for further surgery


There are multiple Risk factors like age, medical condition, and body type. For example people with low bone mass, diabetic people and smokers may be more likely to have certain complications


After the operation, your arm may be temporarily fixed by the splint. After about 1 week, the suture and sling were removed.

After removing the splint, start exercising to stretch the elbows and restore flexibility. About two months after the operation, a gradual and light-weight exercise started.

Your doctor will tell you when you can resume your activities. Usually 4 to 6 months after surgery; however, it is not uncommon to see power decline.

Non-Surgical Treatment

About 80% to 95% of patients don’t need surgical treatment.

Rest: The treatment starts by resting the elbow and stopping exercise for a while.

Anti-inflammatory medicines: Drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen, relieve pain and inflammation.

Physical therapy: practicing some exercises and other movements, you will help you stimulate your muscles for a quick recovery.

Injections: Injecting platelets rich plasma or botox into the painful tendon is a highly Incoming possibility.

Your doctor might suggest injecting platelet-rich plasma, Botox, or some form of an irritant (prolotherapy) into the painful tendon.

 Dry needling in which a needle is inserted into the skin and the damaged muscle.

Ultrasonic tenotomy (TENEX procedure): in this process, your doctor will insert a needle into the damaged portion of the tendon, so the Ultrasonic energy vibrates the needle to suction the damaged tissue liquefies

Brace: Your doctor may suggest using Brace over the back of your forearm to relieve the pain by resting the injured muscles.

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy: This therapeutic innovation has been used in sports medicine for many years. Its function is to stimulate the natural healing process by sending sound waves to the elbow.

Home treatment

You can apply ice or cold compresses three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes, make sure to take the medicines prescribed by your doctor. 

Practice some easy exercises to speed the healing process, try to rest your elbow, and make sure to avoid carrying heavy things.

How long does Tennis Elbow take to heal?

Tennis Elbow takes 1-3 months to 2 years, depending on the way you handle it.

Like I mentioned before, if you ignore the condition and keep the repetitive movement, you can make your injury worse. You might need surgery to fix it otherwise if you take the urgent treatments, you may get better without even seeing a doctor.

 So if you get the symptoms, make sure to make the right decisions.

How to prevent Tennis Elbow?

How to prevent Tennis Elbow?

  • Make sure to always stay fit and in good shape.
  • Use proper technique in sports, especially racket sports like tennis.
  • If you had a tennis elbow before, be careful and give yourself time to heal completely.
  • Make sure to practice stretching exercises every day.
  • Make sure to play tennis with a proper technique
  • If you play tennis or you work on a job with some repetitive activity make sure to wear a brace and take breaks as possible as you can.
  • Don’t forget to warm up before any kind of sports activity.
  • For tennis players, make sure to use the right racket for your level and your type of body. 
  • Use a hammer with padding to help absorb shocks and wear gloves.
  •  Use tools with more oversized grips. 
  • Try to choose the right Racket for you.


Exercises For Tennis Elbow

Exercises For Tennis Elbow

Wrist turns to perform this exercise, you need to bend your elbow at the right angle, extend your hand outwards and face your palm up, start twisting your wrist around gently till your palm is facing down, keep in this position for 5 seconds.

Repeat the same steps for nine more times .do tow to three more sets of 10 repetitions.

Wrist turn with weight as the name suggests, this exercise requires you to repeat the same steps of Wrist turn exercise, the only difference is in the version you need to hold a light-weight dumbbell.

Wrist lift, palm up to perform this exercise. First, you need to hold a light-weight, for example, a small dumbbell and band your elbow at a right angle, after that extend your hand outwards and face up your palm, keep this position for 5 seconds, then release slowly.

Repeat the same steps for nine more times .do tow to three more sets of 10 repetitions.

Elbow bend to practice this exercise you have to stand straight first, lower your arm to one side and band your arm upwards slowly till your hand touches your shoulder, keep this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Repeat the same steps for nine more times .do tow to three more sets of 10 repetitions.

Wrist extensor stretch to practice the wrist extensor stretch first you have to raise your arm out in front of your body, after that bend your wrist gently downwards, with your palm facing down.

Use your other hand to pull the stretching hand back towards your body, keep this position for 15 to 30 seconds and finally straighten your wrist again . do two to three more sets of 3 repetitions.

Wrist extensor flex as all the exercises before, first you have to raise your arm straight out in front of your body with the palm facing down, bend your wrist gently upwards, and use your other hand to pull your fingers back towards your body. 

Keep this position for 15 to 30 seconds, repeat again, do two to three more sets of 3 repetitions.

Fist squeeze this exercise is quite simple, you need to grip a ball or a tissue with fingers to form a fist, squeeze tightly for 10 seconds, repeat the same action 10 more times.

Towel twist to practice this exercise you need to hold a towel with both hands and keep your shoulders relaxed twist the towel by moving your hands in opposite directions repeat this action 10 times . do three to five more sets of 10 repetitions

For more tennis elbow in this video : 


So guys Here is the complete guide about tennis elbow, I have shared with you all you need to know about tennis elbow condition.

Which part of this article do you like most? Let me know in the comment section!

Now it’s your turn to take care of your health and don’t forget to be careful with your daily tasks.

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