Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is pain at the outside of the elbow (also called lateral epicondylitis), caused by stress on the tendons attaching muscles that extend the wrist and fingers.

When tears occur, they inflame.  Pain can radiate down the forearm.  Pain increases with contraction of muscles used when shaking hands, turning doorknobs, picking up objects with the palm down, or hitting a backhand in tennis.

Pain with pressure on outside of the elbow, or in activity that requires wrist and elbow movement describes this condition.

Rest does not cure the problem. Stretching and strengthening exercises are helpful.  Contract the muscles of the forearm by moving the wrist upward.  Stretch them downward. Repeat with the palm facing up, ten times slowly.  Use elastic bands or a 1-2 pound weight to provide resistance, and to increase circulation.  Contact us at Accelerate Physical Therapy to learn about eccentric exercise techniques.

A snug strap around the top of the forearm, or an elboe sleeve decreases the stress of the muscles on the lateral epicondyle.  These lessen pain during waking hours, but don’t sleep with them on.

Physical therapists provide ultrasound or electrical stimulation to increase circulation to the area.  We also suggest you read our article about Contrast Baths (alternating between hot and cold water every 2-3 minutes).

NSAIDS, like ibuprofen may decrease the irritation of inflammation.  Icing the joint may decrease the inflammation and relieve the pain.

Warm up well before, and keep the muscles warm as you play. Racquet handles must fit properly.  String tension and head size may increase tissue stress. Stretch and strengthen all the muscles used in the sport.

Improper techniques may irritate the condition.  Consider tennis lessons.

Source: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the National Athletic Trainers Association