Is it Tennis Elbow?

what is tennis elbow

How to treat tennis elbow pain

To ease the pain, the doctor may prescribe a topical drug for anti-inflammation.

And there is still controversy with the use of NSAID ( Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

So, any other ways apart from medication to help to relieve tennis elbow?
Yes. Let’s start with a possible solution that you can do on your own.

#1 Rest

This might be the most difficult solution part in modern days. However, resting is essential to healing up injured muscle. 

Still no time?

Consider the following treatment modalities for tennis elbow.

#2 Ice therapy

Ice pack helps to relieve the pain and helps to reduce inflammation. Watch this to get quick tips on not having an ice burn.

*Note: Check if you have any contraindication of applying hot/cold therapy

Try this ice therapy for 5-10mins (1-2 times a day, with at least an hour between two sessions of treatments) is helpful to manage the pain.

# Stretching & Warm-up before work or exercise

If your arms need to engage in repetitive motion at work or sports, you have to make sure your body is properly warmed up. 

This can greatly induce the risk of muscle strain.

Specifically, how should we stretch to prevent tennis elbow? WATCH THIS

# Tennis Elbow Brace

There are two types of a tennis elbow brace, namely (1) Strap type, and (2) Compression sleeve type.

Both of them help to alleviate pain by reducing the stress of wrist muscles (extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle).

While for strap type brace, you need to make sure you are wearing it at the right place by strapping it an inch below your elbow pit.

In this way, it helps to reduce the affected muscle pulled whenever you attempt to use it.

*Note: if you are still feeling pain when you attempt to stretch, stop stretching and consult your doctor.

What a physiotherapist might help you


Some people find it effective and feeling “supported” after taped.

Taping helps to promote better circulation around the associated joint. 

To get the best benefits from taping, it is best to have good knowledge of the location of muscles.


#Review surrounding muscles

If one has poor weak shoulder muscles, he/she will rely on small muscles to finish the task.

Physiotherapists usually will try to look into the bigger picture and see other possible causes apart from localized painful spots.



It helps to heal soft tissue with his high-frequency vibration, and such oscillation helps to promote circulation.

A patient will feel nothing when the treatment is in progress. As the sound wave frequency is very high, it cannot be perceived by human beings.


TENS machine ( transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation) helps to ease out elbow pain.

A therapist would place a pair of electrodes above and below your elbow.

Noted: do not place a pair of electrodes directly on your bone.


#Exercise for upper limbs

After inflammation and pain subside, one must develop stronger upper limbs to prevent the return of tennis elbow.

This include

  • wrist stretch
  • biceps stretch
  • triceps stretch
  • hand grip strengthening
  • shoulder rotators strengthening

Most important of all is to prepare the muscle to prevent the next elbow injury.

So What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow refers to elbow pain, located at the lateral epicondyle of our forearm.

The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis.

Where is this lateral epicondyle?

At the base of our upper arm bone (also called humerus), there are two eminences.

If you try to turn your palm facing forward, the eminence outside is the lateral epicondyle.

Specifically, it’s the injury or inflammation of a muscle called extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle (ECRB).

People also refer to tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. -litis, means inflammation. That’s why it’s an injury associated with inflammation of the elbow joint (You can recall words like bronchitis, dermatitis, arthritis…)

What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

  • Difficult to grip or lift anything
  • Painful over outside elbow region (as shown in picture), especially when trying to grip something

Why is it called "tennis elbow"

More than 140 years ago, a German doctor already started referring to this elbow pain condition like tennis elbow. 

After that, there was another British doctor mentioned “the lawn tennis arm” in a medical journal. 

  • In general, this kind of elbow injury is related to repetitive use of backstrokes.

What causes tennis elbow?

Two common reasons are:

  • Over-use of our wrist in turning from inside out(forearm supination).
  • repetitive in bending back our wrists (wrist extension).

How long does it take to heal

It can take up from a month to a year to heal.

Despite this, many people found treatment like ice therapy, strapping and medication at an early stage helps alleviate the pain.

What can be mistaken as a a tennis elbow?

  • referral pain from neck
  • triceps tendon inflammation
  • fracture

How to prevent tennis elbow pain?

#1 Stretching & Warm-up well before engaged in exercise or work that requires a lot of work from the wrist.

#2 Check your Hand Grip

There are numerous factors to make sure you have a good hand grip, which includes:

  • Keep your wrist straight
  • Power grip
  • Reposition hand grip location with less effort
  • Make good use of cart or tools to make your work easier
  • Apply anti-slippery material on the gripping surface
  • Avoid excessive force
  • Avoid excessive repetition

In this way, your body will be using a larger group of muscles (shoulder and arm muscles) instead of the smaller group of muscles (wrist and finger muscles).

#3 Strengthening

(1) Wrist flexors

(2) Wrist extensors

(3) Forearm pronators and supinators 

(4) Gripping

(5) Fingers extension 


Wrist extensors should not be the only concern in preventing elbow injury. We have to look into the overall picture and take a look where else over our body is in tightness that requires massage and stretching.

Learn more

  • When to use hot/cold pack to relieve join pain?
  • What are the contraindication of hot/cold pack?

Alternatively you can check in our private community!

Have you had painful elbow? Which modality you find is most effective?

Leave your comment below!

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