Tennis Elbow

This article will discuss what tennis elbow is, its signs and symptoms, how it is diagnosed, and the various treatment options available. 

If you’re experiencing elbow pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to seek help. Schedule an appointment with the experts at Orthopedic Specialists & Sports Medicine, with multiple locations in Ohio, including Granville and Coshocton, to start your journey toward recovery.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow (medically known as lateral epicondylitis) is a common condition that causes pain and tenderness in the outer part of your elbow. Despite its name, you don’t have to play tennis to get it. 

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

When you grip, twist, or lift objects, it can strain the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the outside of your elbow joint. This overuse can cause small tears in the tendons, leading to pain and inflammation.

While playing tennis can cause tennis elbow, many other activities, such as painting, typing, or using hand tools, can also cause it.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow can cause several signs and symptoms. The most common symptom is pain and tenderness on the outside of your elbow. You might also feel pain that travels down your forearm.

The pain can range from mild to severe and may get worse when you grip things, twist your forearm, or lift objects. Some people with tennis elbow also have weakness in their forearm and difficulty with simple tasks like opening a door or shaking hands.

If you’re experiencing elbow pain or arm pain, especially when you’re using your hands and arms, it’s essential to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Early treatment can help relieve pain and prevent further damage to your elbow.

A patient with tennis elbow pain in Granville, Ohio.

How is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?

Diagnosing tennis elbow usually involves a physical examination and a discussion about your symptoms and activities. Your doctor will ask you questions about your pain, when it started, and what activities make it worse. They may also press on different parts of your elbow to check for tenderness and pain.

Sometimes, your doctor may order imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI to rule out other causes of your elbow pain, such as a fracture or arthritis.

In some cases, your doctor may also perform a test called the “elbow extensor test.” During this test, you’ll straighten your arm and try to resist when your doctor tries to bend your wrist backward. If this causes pain on the outside of your elbow, it’s a sign of tennis elbow.

Once your doctor has diagnosed tennis elbow, they can recommend the right treatment to help relieve your pain and get you back to your normal activities.

How to Treat Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow can usually be treated without tennis elbow surgery. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and help you get back to your normal activities.

Resting your arm is essential to give the muscles and tendons time to heal. You can also try using ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce pain and inflammation.

Physical therapy is often recommended to strengthen the muscles in your forearm and improve flexibility. Your physical therapist may also use techniques like massage or ultrasound to help with healing.

If your tennis elbow doesn’t improve with these treatments, your doctor may recommend injections of corticosteroids or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to reduce inflammation.

In rare cases, surgery may be necessary, especially if you have chronic tennis elbow that doesn’t respond to other treatments. During surgery, the damaged tendon is either repaired or removed.

To prevent tennis elbow from coming back, it’s essential to use proper technique and equipment when playing sports or doing activities that involve repetitive arm movements. Your doctor may also recommend an exercise program to strengthen your forearm muscles and improve flexibility.

Seeking Relief for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow can be a painful condition, but with the right treatment, you can get back to doing the activities you love. Whether you’re an athlete or someone who enjoys DIY projects, it’s essential to listen to your body and seek treatment if you’re experiencing elbow pain or arm pain. 

If you’re struggling with elbow pain, don’t wait to seek help. Schedule an appointment with the experts at Orthopedic Specialists & Sports Medicine. With multiple locations in Ohio, including Granville and Coshocton, our team is here to help you get back to feeling your best. Contact us today!

Medically reviewed by Alex Tancevski, M.D.