Tennis elbow also is known as later epicondylitis. Most people with tennis elbow develop it by overusing the muscles of the forearm, which allow you to grip items, rotate the arm, and flex the wrist. Overuse can cause tears in the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the bone.
Who is at risk for tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is most common in people who play tennis or other sports that use a racket. Backhand strokes are more likely to cause tennis elbow than others. Some other racket sports that can contribute to tennis elbow include:
- Table tennis
You can be at risk for tennis elbow with many activities that involve repetitive movement of the elbow, wrist, or hand. Some examples of workers or athletes who may be at risk include:
- Assembly-line workers
- Baseball players
Symptoms of tennis elbow
The main symptom of tennis elbow is elbow pain and tenderness. This pain tends to get worse over time, and it may radiate into the upper or lower arm.
Tennis elbow pain may get worse when you:
- Grip objects, like a tennis racket, or make a fist
- Lift objects
- Twist the wrist, such as opening a door or shaking hands
Tennis elbow treatment
We first recommend rest to give your elbow a chance to heal. You’ll need to avoid the activities that caused your tennis elbow for two to three weeks. Icepacks and anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve the pain.
If your tennis elbow was caused by playing sports, improving your technique may minimize the risk of future injuries. Our sports medicine team can give you tips about changes to your form, conditioning improvements, or different equipment that may be able to help.
If these treatments don’t work, we may recommend surgery to correct tennis elbow. There are two main surgeries we perform for tennis elbow. One involves trimming the affected tendon, and the other involves releasing the tendon and reattaching it to the bone. You and your doctor will discuss your options and decide on the right course of action.