Tennis Elbow Symptoms and Treatments

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is an unpleasant condition that occurs when the tendons in your elbow are being overworked, usually by repetitive motions in use of the wrist and arm.

Despite the name, tennis players and athletes are not the only people who can develop tennis elbow. Plenty of jobs feature the types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow including but not limited to carpenters, plumbers, butchers, painters and many more.

It isn’t the most pleasant feeling to say the least. The pain can strand from inflammation or even fluid around the elbow, you may notice that tennis elbow symptoms may occur mainly around the tendons where your upper forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow, this pain can also spread to your lower forearm and wrist depending on the severity. 

What Are The Symptoms?

It doesn’t take much to notice.

Tennis elbow is identified by recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm, just below the elbow bend as mentioned above. You may also notice discomfort further down the arm, towards the wrist. The pain may be pronounced if you lift or bend your arm or even when gripping small objects. Not being able to carry out simple tasks such as these and any loss of strength or increase in stiffness and discomfort in that area can be a solid indicator of tennis elbow. For those who go to the gym, tennis elbow symptoms can be identified in your grip strength or the lack thereof. Oftentimes people will oversee muscle soreness in their forearms as a side effect of hard work. 

What Are The Potential Risks?

Sometimes people ignore the tennis elbow symptoms and simply brush it under the rug, thinking they may just be sore from excessive physical labour or lifting. A common question being asked is, “Does this open them up to any risk long-term?”

Potentially. It depends on the severity of the injury. If tennis elbow is left untreated it can become chronic and last for months or even years, especially if the repetitive action or activity that caused the problem is continued in your common life habits and activities. You may leave yourself exposed to nerve damage in the forearm, which is why it is in your best interest to see a specialist for a proper diagnosis and tennis elbow treatment if you are experiencing any symptoms. 

Tennis Elbow Treatments and Diagnosis.

Your specialist will oftentimes diagnose tennis elbow by doing a physical exam. However, if your symptoms are directly related to a specific sport, your specialist or doctor may ask to examine your technique before recommending any tennis elbow treatments as that may be the driving factor to your inflammation and pain. Here are some tests that you should prepare to receive before proceeding to treatment. 

  • An X-ray, most times necessary as next steps after your physical exam. An X-ray is used to look at the bones of your elbow to rule out arthritis. 
  • MRI, an MRI can reveal the condition of your tendons and the extent of the damage. An MRI can reveal extensive elbow damage along with any underlying issues that may be causing the tennis elbow.  Things like arthritis in your neck or disc issues in your spine are very unlikely although still potentially causes for your tennis elbow.
  • If tennis elbow is diagnosed as extreme (very uncommon). You may be open to ‘Electromyography’ (EMG). A small, thin needle is inserted into several muscles to check for any problems during this part of the exam. Each patient receives a new needle, which is disposed of after the test. When the needle is inserted, there may be some discomfort, thankfully the good doctor will only examine the muscles that are required to determine precisely what is wrong. The electrical signals that travel from the needle to the EMG machine will be analyzed and examined by the doctor to determine next steps.


Tennis elbow will often get better over time. You may find that with some simple at home remedies those tennis elbow symptoms will subside. The most common tennis elbow treatments for at home practice are: 

  • Rest 
  • Icing for 15 minutes directly on the location of discomfort
  • Over the counter pain relievers such as Advil, Ibuprofen, Aleve and Naproxen.
  • Limiting flexion of the wrist to keep the inflammation to a minimum.

For more extensive treatment options, you may want to consider, 

  • Physical Therapy, a physical therapist can provide you exercises to progressively stretch and strengthen your muscles, particularly your forearm muscles. Eccentric exercises, which involve slowly lowering your wrist after raising it, are incredibly useful. Proper use of a forearm strap or brace may help to relieve strain on the injured tissue as well. 
  • PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), sounds complicated, but PRP therapy is a quick and simple procedure that usually does not involve lengthy post-operative recovery. This type of regenerative medicine does have the ability to provide long-term, and even permanent, relief from elbow pain. PRP therapy allows the majority of patients to resume normal active lifestyles without having to account for the loss of mobility associated with surgery.
  • Shockwave Therapy, a very effective treatment often used in combination with PRP (platelet rich plasma). Shockwave Therapy & PRP is a sworn by method of many professionals and it shows its effectiveness by diminishing pain through two main ways. 

With that being said, there is one tennis elbow treatment that can insure a much more thorough and longer lasting solution that doesn’t involve injecting any artificial hormones. High energy Shockwave Therapy is classified as short duration (approx. 10 sec) high energy pulses that break the sound barrier resulting in a shockwave. With high energy shockwave technology, this allows the shockwave to be focused directly through the affected tissue resulting in two main effects:

  • Diminishes pain via hyperstimulation. In other words, local nerve endings become overstimulated, their activity decreases, resulting in a short-term reduction in pain. 
  • Gate-control mechanism, in which local nerves are stimulated to recalibrate pain perception, resulting in a much longer duration of pain reduction.

    Learn more about Shockwave Therapy or find a doctor who performs PRP injections.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Nick Trent
Wellneste Editorial Team
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