PT Weekly: All you need to know about Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded /overused, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. It occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist.

It is caused by repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that is use to straighten and raise hand and wrist. The repeated motions and stress to the tissue may result in a series of micro tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bony prominence at the outside of the elbow.
As the name Implies, playing tennis especially repeated use of the backhand stroke with poor technique has been said to be one of the major possible causes of tennis elbow. However, many other common arm motions can cause tennis elbow, including:

  • Painting
  • Driving screws
  • Cutting up cooking ingredients, particularly meat
  • Repetitive computer mouse use
  • Carpentry

Factors that may increase risk or further predispose someone to tennis elbow include:

  • Age. Though it’s said to affects people across all ages, it’s most common in adults between the ages of 35 and 50.
  • Occupation. People who have jobs that involve repetitive motions of the wrist and arm are more likely to develop tennis elbow. Examples include plumbers, painters, carpenters, butchers and cooks.
  • Certain sports. Participating in racket sports increases ones risk of tennis elbow, especially if when a poor stroking technique is employed

Prevention and Treatment

Often time is always difficult to prevent the occurrence, however, not putting strain on the tendons of your elbow will help one avoid the condition or prevent the symptoms from getting worse. Listed below are some measures you can take to help prevent tennis elbow developing or recurring:

If you have tennis elbow, stop doing the activity that is causing pain, or find an alternative way of doing it that does not place stress on your tendons

  • Avoid using your wrist and elbow more than the rest of your arm. Spread the load to the larger muscles of your shoulder and upper arm
  • Before playing a sport that involves repetitive arm movements, warm up properly and gently stretch your arm muscles to help avoid injury
  • Use lightweight tools or racquets and enlarge their grip size to help you avoid putting excess strain on your tendons
  • Wear a tennis elbow splint when you are using your arm, and take it off while you are resting or sleeping to help prevent further damage to your tendons.

Increasing the strength of your forearm muscles can help prevent tennis elbow.

Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, which means it will eventually get better without treatment. However, it can often last for several weeks or months, because tendons heal slowly. In some cases, tennis elbow can persist for more than a year. A number of simple treatments can help alleviate the pain of tennis elbow. The most important thing you can do is rest your injured arm and stop doing the activity that caused the problem. Holding a cold compress, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, against your elbow for a few minutes several times a day can help ease the pain.

Orthosis is a device externally used on the limb to improve the function or reduce the pain. Orthotics are useful therapeutic interventions for initial therapy of tennis elbow. There are two main types of orthoses prescribed for this problem: counterforce elbow orthoses and wrist extension orthoses. Both type of orthoses improve the hand function and reduce the pain in people with tennis elbow.

Counterforce orthosis reduces the elongation within the musculotendinous fibers


Wrist extensor orthosis reduces the overloading strain at the lesion area

Surgery may be recommended as a last intervention in cases where tennis elbow is causing severe and persistent pain.

For tennis players, athletes in general and others suffering from Lateral Epicondilitis, our physios can help and PCA independent store always ready to provide with necessary and suitable orthotic devices.

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