Tennis Elbow Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Tennis Elbows Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention


Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is inflammation or damage to the tendon attached to the lateral epicondyle or bony prominence at the elbow. This tendon serves to bend the wrist backward away from the palm. Symptoms can include pain around the elbow area.

As the name implies, tennis elbow often occurs in tennis players – especially in players who use the backhand technique incorrectly. Nearly a third of all tennis athletes have experienced tennis elbowTennis elbow often occurs in the dominant arm.

Tennis elbow can last from 6 months to 2 years. Almost all patients recover within 1 year.

Tennis Elbow Symptoms

The main symptom of tennis elbow is moderate discomfort or pain when using the elbow or even severe pain when the elbow is still. Pain in tennis elbow has the following characteristics:

  • in the upper forearm area and below the elbow
  • when lifting or bending the hand
  • while holding a small object like a pen
  • when turning the forearm such as when turning a doorknob or opening a jam lid
  • pain and stiffness when trying to extend the arm fully

Tennis Elbow Reason

The exact cause of tennis elbow is still unknown. Usually tennis elbow occurs due to overuse injury. The muscles and tendons in the forearm can become strained by repetitive or strenuous activities. So that there can be inflammation of the lateral epicondyle or bony prominence at the elbow. In addition, tennis elbow can also occur after an accident that hits the elbow.

Here are some activities that can cause tennis elbow :

  • racquet sports – such as tennis, badminton and golf
  • the sport of throwing the javelin
  • gardening using scissors
  • Decorate using a brush or roller
  • construction work such as screw fixing and lifting heavy loads
  • activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements such as typing, cutting, cutting meat
  • activities that make your elbows bend repeatedly –such as playing the violin


Doctors can determine the diagnosis of tennis elbow through a detailed medical interview and the symptoms that the patient complains about. The doctor will do an examination to look for tenderness or swelling around the elbow.

During the examination, the patient will also be asked to straighten the fingers, bend the wrist with the elbow straightened. Investigations such as ultrasound and MRI may be needed to check for nerve damage.

Tennis Elbow Treatment

Tennis elbow can actually heal itself without treatment. However, it can take months because the tendon heals slowly. Even the healing process can take more than one year.

Some of the ways below can relieve the symptoms of tennis elbow and treat the disease:

  • stop activity in the affected muscles and tendons
  • cold compresses on the elbow for a few minutes several times a day to reduce pain
  • using pain relievers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs namely ibuprofen both oral and topical such as creams or gels
  • using injectable steroid (anti-inflammatory) medications
  • doing physiotherapy
  • following shockwave therapy, non-invasive therapy using high-energy shockwaves to reduce pain (side effects include bruising or redness)
  • using an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), blood plasma that can repair damaged tissue
  • surgery which is the last resort of treatment for severe and persistent cases or when other treatments have not been effective


Tennis elbow is often quite difficult to prevent. Avoid putting pressure on the elbow tendons to prevent tennis elbow from occurring or making the symptoms worse.

In addition, avoid using your wrists and elbows more than using other parts of your hands. Do tennis or other sports with proper technique. Don’t forget to always warm up, especially the hands before doing sports.

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