Tennis Elbow: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

by Craig W. Goodhart, MD 17. December 2013 05:15

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is painful condition caused when the muscles of hand, arm and forearm get overused. This type of tendonitis can affect people of any age but its prevalence is mostly found in people of age 40 and older.

Read on to know more about tennis elbow:


  • Gripping activities: According to orthopedic surgeons in Flower Mound, Texas, the activities like knitting, gardening and raking that require the continuous use of thumb and first two fingers may lead to tennis elbow.
  • Elbow injuries: Any injury affecting the muscles and tendons of elbow can contribute to the prevalence of tennis elbow.
  • Physical activities: Tennis elbow may also be an upshot of activities like squash, tennis, weightlifting, fencing etc.


Generally the symptoms vary with the severity of condition. While some patients experience mild pain on the outside of elbow, other may feel discomfort in the entire arm. Usually, the pain is also accompanied by joint tenderness and swelling. Some patients may also find it difficult to grip an object or perform day-to-day activities like writing, typing, opening a door, etc. Furthermore, patients may also feel numbness and tingling sensation in the elbow.

The tennis elbow is diagnosed by physically examining the elbow. The orthopedic doctor may also conduct imaging tests, such as an X-ray, EMG MRI, etc. to rule out other elbow related disorders.


Once the condition gets diagnosed as tennis elbow, the following treatments may be recommended by the doctor:

Nonsurgical Treatment: Normally the patients of tennis elbow are found to experience relief with the traditional non-surgical approach. Given below are some common non-surgical treatment options:

  • Rest: First of all, the patients are advised to give proper rest to the affected elbow. They may also apply ice for a few minutes to get relief from the pain.
  • Medication: The orthopedic doctors may recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: The physical therapists may also recommend practicing a range of strengthening exercises to improve muscle healing as well as prevent the elbow from further injury.
  • Brace: The patients may also be suggested to use a counterforce brace to speed up the process of healing.

Surgical Treatment: Surgery may be recommended in severe cases of tennis elbow. The two most common approach used for treating tennis elbow include open surgery and arthroscopic surgery.

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