Tennis Elbow

What is it?

Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is an overuse injury to the outside of the elbow. It is the inflammation of the common wrist extensor tendon at its attachment to the outer elbow (lateral epicondyle).

Tennis Elbow is a common condition that is present in 40% of tennis players and 15% of people working in repetitive manual trades. Sufferers are generally aged between 35-50 years however it can occur at any age.


  • Pain with gripping tasks or resisted finger/wrist extension

  • Pain can be reproduced when the wrist extensor muscles are stretched

  • Tenderness over the bony epicondyles

  • Possible trigger points in the forearm muscles

Mechanism of Injury

Tennis elbow is the result of repeated bending and twisting movements of the arm. It occurs when more force is applied to the tissue than it can comfortably handle.

Common causes include:

  • Unaccustomed hand use, eg painting, hammering, excessive typing

  • Excessive gripping activities

  • Poor technique (eg tennis shot) Poor forearm muscle strength

Common Management Techniques

Conservative Management

  • Massage and releases

  • Dry needling

  • Eccentric exercise

  • Tape/braces

  • Heat or ice

  • Autologous blood injections

  • Cortisone injections

  • Anti-inflammatroy medications

  • Electrotherapy

  • Daily ice massage will help—fill a paper cup with water and freeze. Peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice and rub over the affected area in a circular motion for 5–7 minutes.

  • Modification of the activity that caused the problem and rest will help.


After one year, 8 out of 10 people with tennis elbow will have improvement or symptoms that have got better, whether they have treatment or not. Symptoms usually last between 6 and 24 months. In rare cases some people may require surgery. Physiotherapy treatment, as well as home exercises can hasten your recovery.