Tennis Elbow: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Joints Healthy and Pain-Free

Tennis Elbow: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Joints Healthy and Pain-Free

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in the elbow. Despite its name, it’s not limited to tennis players; anyone who repeatedly uses their forearm and wrist can develop this condition. In this blog, we’ll explore what tennis elbow is, its causes, symptoms, and risk factors.

Tennis elbow is caused by repetitive stress on the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, which is the bony bump on the outer part of the elbow. This repetitive stress can cause small tears in the tendons and lead to pain and inflammation. While tennis players are often affected by this condition, it can also be caused by other repetitive activities, such as typing, painting, and playing musical instruments.

The symptoms of tennis elbow can range from mild to severe and can include the following:

  1. Pain on the outer part of the elbow. This is the most common symptom of tennis elbow and is usually aggravated by activities that involve gripping or lifting objects.
  2. Weakness in the forearm. People with tennis elbow may have difficulty gripping objects or performing simple tasks that involve the wrist and forearm.
  3. Stiffness in the elbow. The elbow may feel stiff and may be difficult to move, particularly in the morning.
  4. Tingling or numbness in the fingers. This is less common but can occur when the nerves that run through the forearm are affected.

There are several risk factors for developing tennis elbow. These include:

  1. Repetitive motions. As mentioned earlier, any activity that involves repetitive wrist and forearm movements can cause tennis elbow.
  2. Age. Tennis elbow is more common in people between the ages of 30 and 50.
  3. Gender. Men and women are equally affected by tennis elbow.
  4. Occupation. People who work in manual labour or jobs that involve repetitive wrist and forearm movements are more likely to develop tennis elbow.
  5. Sports. Tennis, racquetball, and other racquet sports can put a lot of stress on the tendons in the elbow and lead to tennis elbow.
  6. Poor technique. Using improper technique when performing certain activities, such as weightlifting, can also increase the risk of developing tennis elbow.
  7. Previous injuries. Previous injuries or surgeries to the hand, elbow, shoulder, chest, or neck can result in dysfunctional compensations that put excessive demand on the elbow. This compensatory overuse is a common contributing factor to the development of tennis elbow.

So, how is tennis elbow treated? Physiotherapy, including exercises and stretches to strengthen the muscles and tendons in the forearm is recommended. Your physiotherapist will perform an assessment to discover the root cause of your issue based on the 7 risk factors outlined above. They will then develop a treatment plan to address your individual needs and meet your goals. Depending on the severity of the problem, rest or bracing of the affected arm may be recommended to avoid aggravating the condition in the early stages.

Furthermore, over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help manage pain and inflammation. 

In some cases, more advanced treatments may be necessary. These can include corticosteroid injections, which can help reduce inflammation and pain, or shockwave therapy, which uses sound waves to stimulate healing. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged tendons.

Stimulating the supinator muscle at the elbow courtesy of Body Science Therapy & Performance Centre (Read the caption)

Get back in the game with physiotherapy for tennis elbow

Physiotherapy is a highly effective treatment option for individuals who suffer from tennis elbow. A physiotherapist can work with patients to develop a tailored treatment plan to help reduce pain, improve mobility, and increase strength in the affected area. This type of therapy is non-invasive and drug-free, making it a great option for those who want to avoid surgery or prescription medication.

Physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow typically begins with a thorough evaluation by a qualified physiotherapist. The therapist will assess the patient’s range of motion, strength, and pain level, as well as their overall health and medical history. Based on the findings of the evaluation, the physiotherapist will develop an individualized treatment plan that may include several components.

One of the primary components of physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow is exercise. Specific exercises designed to strengthen the muscles and tendons in the forearm and wrist can help reduce pain and improve range of motion. These exercises may include wrist curls, forearm pronation and supination, and eccentric exercises designed to improve strength and flexibility.

Another important aspect of physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow is manual therapy. This may include massage, joint mobilization, and stretching techniques designed to improve blood flow and promote healing in the affected area. Manual therapy can also help to reduce pain and stiffness in the elbow, which can help to improve overall mobility and function.

In addition to exercise and manual therapy, physiotherapists may also use other modalities to help reduce pain and promote healing. These may include acupuncture, taping, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and ice or heat therapy. These modalities can help to reduce inflammation and promote blood flow to the affected area, which can help to speed up the healing process.

A physiotherapist may also work with patients to identify any activities or movements that are aggravating their tennis elbow symptoms. By modifying these movements or finding alternative ways to perform them, patients can reduce the strain on their elbow and prevent further injury. In some cases, a physiotherapist may also recommend the use of braces or other supportive devices to help protect the affected area during physical activity.

In addition to these specific treatment components, a physiotherapist can also provide education and support to help patients better manage their tennis elbow symptoms. This may include advice on lifestyle modifications, such as changes to work or exercise routines, as well as tips for reducing pain and improving mobility at home.

Overall, physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals suffering from tennis elbow. By working with a qualified physiotherapist, patients can develop a customized treatment plan that includes exercise, manual therapy, and other modalities to help reduce pain and promote healing. With proper treatment, many patients can return to their normal activities and enjoy a pain-free lifestyle.

Routine for wrist and elbow strengthening courtesy of Body Science Therapy & Performance Centre (Read the caption)


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Massaging the area around your tennis elbow can help to reduce pain and discomfort. It may also help to improve blood flow and reduce swelling. However, it is important to speak to a doctor or physiotherapist before attempting massage on your own, as improper technique can worsen the condition.

Ice is generally the best way to treat tennis elbow, as it reduces inflammation and numbs the area to reduce pain. Heat may be used in conjunction with ice to help increase blood flow to the area, but it should only be used after the swelling has gone down.

If left untreated, tennis elbow can become a chronic condition and cause long-term pain and discomfort. Ignoring the condition can also lead to reduced range of motion and increased risk of injury. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome.

About Mathew Hughes

Body Science Therapy Mathew Hughes Registered Physiotherapist

Since earning his Masters of Science in Physiotherapy in 2013, Mathew has been specializing in acute injuries, complex injury histories, recurring injuries, performance enhancement, and concussion management.

He is one of few physiotherapists in Canada integrating advanced practices including P-DTR, Level 3 Neurokinetic Therapy, Anatomy in Motion, Cranial Therapy, and Neurofunctional Acupuncture.

He works hard to find and treat the cause of your pain or problem – in order to achieve results that last, while many other therapists repeatedly treat the symptoms which results in temporary improvement and returning symptoms.

What he values the most with his work is discovering the potential of the human body and mind, and helping his clients realize that potential. During his off-time, he enjoys nothing more than living a healthy lifestyle, learning, and connecting with family and friends. 

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

Book Your Free Consult

Or Fill Out This Form & Get A Call Back

By submitting this form you are consenting to receiving appointment reminders, exercise plans, plans of care, and any relevant services from Integra Health Centre and Your email will never be sold and you can unsubscribe at any time.