What is Tennis Elbow?

By  , Expert Content
Sep 21, 2012

Tennis elbow is a common type of injury which affects the elbow. It causes pain on the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow is most commonly caused because of strenuous overuse or injury of elbow.


[Read: Tips to Prevent Tennis Elbow]


What causes tennis Elbow?

Tendons of many muscles are attached at the elbow joint which helps to move the elbow, wrist and fingers. Tendons are structure which join the bones and muscles together and control the muscles when you move the joint. In tennis elbow, one or more of the tendons in the elbow become inflamed and painful. The injury can be sudden or chronic and gradual. This causes pain on the outside of the elbow.

Tennis elbow most commonly affects the dominant arm (that is, a right elbow in a right handed person and left elbow in left-handed person), but the non-dominant arm can also be involved in injury. In some cases both the arms may be involved. Tennis elbow can occur at any age but it most commonly affects people who are around 40 years old.

Who gets Tennis Elbow?

Although it is called tennis elbow the condition can affect anyone. It affects about 1–3 per cent of the general population and about 50 per cent of tennis players during their careers. It is known as tennis elbow as many tennis players suffer from this injury at some point in their career.

People playing other sports such as baseball players, bowlers or doing activities that require repetitive arm such as carpenters, gardeners or landscapers, house or office cleaners, and mechanics,, , , can get tennis elbow.


Pain is the most common and important symptom of tennis elbow. The pain and tenderness is present on the area around the outside of the elbow. Some movements which can cause pain include:

  • Pain on lifting any object or bending your arm.
  • Pain on doing fine movements with hand and wrist such as when writing, typing, using a screw driver or trying to grip small objects. So the person may find it difficult to hold small items, such as a pen, brush.
  • Pain on any movement that causes twisting of forearm such as turning a door handle or opening a jar.
  • Pain on trying to fully extend the forearm.


Read: [When should one seek Medical Advice on Tennis Elbow?]


Many people may experience weakness of elbow and stiffness of arm that increases progressively as the injury to the tendon increases. The person may feel weakness at the elbow on doing simple activities such as opening a door handle, using a screw driver, shaking hands with someone.


Treatment options for tennis elbow include:

  • non-surgical treatment
  • surgical treatment


Non-surgical treatments: Non-surgical treatment for tennis elbow includes rest, pain relieving medicines, corticosteroid injections, physiotherapy, and shock wave therapy.

Surgery: Surgery is considered as an option for treatment after non-surgical methods fail to control pain. It is used in people with severe or persistent tennis elbow. Surgery aims to relieve the pain by removing the damaged part of the tendon.


Read more on Tennis Elbow Lateral Epicondylitis


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