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Explained: Tennis Elbow

Image of a person wearing a yellow shirt holding their elbow in pain due to tennis elbow with 2 tennis rackets lying on top of each other with 3 tennis balls on top on a tennis court.

Do you think you might have tennis elbow pain after starting to exercise more or a long weekend of gardening?

At this time of year, we start to see lots of patients who come to us with various overuse injuries as they return to activities that they’ve not done in a while when the nice weather arrives.

As a result, our joints, muscles, and tendons simply aren’t up to the challenges of weekend adventures, outdoors with the grandchildren, your first 5k in 2024, or exercising more, and they become sore, stiff, and painful.

Our latest blog dives into one of these overuse injuries, and the most common cause of elbow pain; tennis elbow.

What is Tennis Elbow?

​Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow and in some cases, the pain may travel down the forearm as well. 

Causes of Tennis Elbow

Typically, the cause of tennis elbow pain is overuse, or repetition of movement to the muscles in the forearm which connect to the elbow and by doing any form of activity that involves repeatedly twisting your wrist and bending your elbow or using your forearm muscles.

As you may have guessed, tennis elbow can be caused by playing tennis, but it could be caused by any activity that puts repeated strain and stress on the elbow joint.

Some other causes of tennis elbow pain can be:

  • Using hand-tools when doing DIY or gardening

  • Sewing, typing or other activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements.

  • Exercise that involves gripping, or pulling towards the body

How do I know if I have Tennis Elbow?

Black and white image of a person holding their elbow in pain with the irritated area shaded red to show which area has pain.

​Tennis elbow pain can vary from mild discomfort when moving your elbow, up to severe pain that can even be experienced when your elbow is still.

It is common for tennis elbow pain to be more severe, especially when using your arm and for twisting movements like you may do when gardening, playing tennis or doing DIY.

If you have tennis elbow, you will usually experience pain:

  • On the outside of the elbow (this can move down your forearm when lifting or bending your arm)

  • When gripping small objects, such as a pen, steering wheel or holding a book

  • When twisting your forearm, such as turning a door handle or using a screwdriver

​In some cases, the pain can also appear when you try to fully straighten your arm depending on the severity of your condition so it can be a varied condition which is why it’s so important to get expert advice for the best results.

Treatments for Tennis Elbow

Split screen image of two individual treating their pain. One person is using ice while the other is using heat.

​If you think you have tennis elbow – what can you do about it?

For some people, tennis elbow pain can improve on its own with rest, however it can take a very long time for some people.

Therefore, lots of people visit our clinic for specialist treatments and exercise plan because they want to get a faster recovery, and get back to doing the things that they love to do…

Most people don’t want to wait months for their tennis elbow to fix itself.

To speed up the recovery process, in the short term, minimize the activity that caused the flare up of pain to avoid making the condition worse. So, if you notice that your elbow pain seemed to be triggered after going back to the gym, or spending a few hours gardening during the weekend, it can be a good idea to ease up on that activity.

Don’t worry – Once you have started to recover, you can then gradually reintroduce the activity and this time, it shouldn’t cause any pain

This will allow some time for the tendons and muscle to recover, alongside physical therapy where we can provide massage and manual treatment to relieve pain and stiffness, as well as encouraging blood flow to the elbow.

​For natural, drug-free ways to relieve tennis elbow pain, the use of ice and heat packs can be a simple, and effective way to get short term pain relief because we know that lots of our patients don’t want to be regularly taking pain killers if they can avoid it.

Long Term Results from Tennis Elbow

​If tennis elbow pain is affecting your life, stopping you from exercising, gardening or playing with the grandchildren, our team are here to help by delivering expert physiotherapy and provide a tailored recovery plan.

To find out more about how we can help you, we offer free discovery visits where you can speak to a member of our team, ask any questions that you have, and decide whether physical therapy is the right path for you.

Alternatively, call our team at (215) 348-0666.

Other Free Resources to Ease Aches and Pains

Read more blogs by Doylestown Sports Medicine Center.


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