Tennis Elbow: A Frequent-use Frustration

Last updated: Jul 01, 2011


What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is one of the most common joint injuries in people aged 30 to 50 years.  Although it often occurs in people who play tennis and other racquet sports, tennis elbow also can arise in people of all ages who constantly repeat motions of the wrist and forearm. For example, butchers, cooks, carpenters, painters, plumbers, and even typists are at risk for the condition.

Muscles and tendons on the outside of the elbow joint become irritated and inflamed in people with tennis elbow. Symptoms usually include pain on the outside of the elbow that worsens gradually. But some people with tennis elbow experience weakness and pain with simple tasks like holding a coffee cup, opening a door, or shaking hands. The elbow pain can be constant or occur only at certain times such as at night or when someone touches the joint.

Although there is no single best (or gold standard) treatment for tennis elbow, there are effective ways to help relieve it, including:

  • Resting the wrist, arm, and elbow joint by stopping or changing your activities
  • Applying ice to the elbow for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce inflammation
  • Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen to help reduce inflammation
  • Using a brace to distribute the force of an action throughout the arm instead of allowing it to be focused only on the elbow joint
  • Having physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in your forearm
  • Having surgery in severe cases to cut, remove swollen tissue, and repair tears in the elbow tendon

It it’s not treated, tennis elbow can be become chronic. For this reason, it’s important to talk with your doctor if you’re having elbow pain. He or she can tell you whether you have tennis elbow and describe what’s needed to improve it. Often, a team approach involving your doctor and physical therapist, can help ease your elbow pain.


If you’d like more information about tennis elbow
or want to schedule an appointment,
call Summit Medical Group Orthopedics today
at 908-277-8800.

 To schedule an appointment
with Summit Medical Group Physical Therapy,
please call 908-277-8936.