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Tennis Elbow: Symptoms, Treatment and Exercises

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Tennis Elbow  related image Photo: Getty Images

According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, more than half of the people who play racket sports will develop tennis elbow. However, the other remaining half diagnosed with tennis elbow will have the ailment because of the repeated gripping or twisting motion of the muscles in the forearm.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states, ʺTennis elbow is inflammation, soreness, or pain on the outside (lateral) side of the upper arm near the elbow.ʺ

The inflammation and pain of tennis elbow is due to the small tears in the tendons near the elbow.

Symptoms of tennis elbow include:

• Insufficient forearm functional strength
• Forearm muscle tightness
• Weak grasp
• Difficulty holding onto, pinching, or gripping objects
• Elbow pain that gradually worsens
• Point tenderness at or near the insertion sites of the muscles of the lateral or medial elbow
• Pain radiating from the outside of the elbow to the forearm and back of the hand when grasping or twisting
• Pain, stiffness, or insufficient elbow and hand movement

Tennis elbow treatment includes: activity and/or equipment modification, rest, medication, physical therapy, a tennis elbow brace, shockwave therapy, brace, cortisone or other injections and/or surgery.

Rest is the key for tennis elbow. The NIH recommends resting your elbow for two-three weeks. If the injury is sports related, you may want to try the following:

• Cut back on the sport and allow your injury to heal
• Check your equipment or try different equipment
• Make changes in your technique to alleviate pressure on the elbow

The America Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) recommends a tennis elbow brace. This brace can be purchased at any sports or drug store. According to ASSH, ʺa band worn over the muscle of the forearm, just below the elbow, can reduce the tension on the tendon and allow it to heal.ʺ

When it comes to tennis elbow treatment, the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT) recommend the R.I.C.E. principle. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice (two or three times per day), compress and elevate.

NISMAT’s website offers several tennis elbow exercises. You can find them at: http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/tennis_elbow

The key to tennis elbow exercises is to conduct exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles around your elbow.

Another medical site which offers tennis elbow exercises is the Hughston Clinic. The site offers seven tennis elbow exercises to strengthen the muscles around your elbow.

Here it the link for the seven exercises: http://www.hughston.com/hha/a.seven.htm

Please check with your primary health care physician before you begin these exercises.

Recently, Reuters published the results of a Greek study which tested blood injections into the elbow. According to Reuters, ʺBlood injections, especially of platelet-rich blood, into the affected area help relieve the pain associated with 'tennis elbow' where other treatment methods have failed, according to a Greek study.ʺ

Finally, surgery is a last resort. Recovery from surgery can take four to six months.


Tennis Elbow Lateral Epicondylitis. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/TennisElbow.aspx

Physical Therapy Corner: Tennis Elbow. The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma. Welcome to the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma. The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from

Boggs, W. Blood injections may help chronic tennis elbow| Reuters. Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Reuters.com. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from

Rehabilitation for Tennis Elbow. The Hughston Clinic, P.C. - Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Georgia and Alabama. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.hughston.com/hha/a.seven.htm

Tennis Elbow. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from www.sportsmed.org/uploadedFiles/Content/Patient/Sports_Tips/ST%20Tennis%20Elbow%2008.pdf

Tennis elbow. University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/000449.htm

Tennis elbow - PubMed Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001485

Tennis elbow: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000449.htm

What to do about tennis elbow. Health Information and Medical Information - Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/What-to-do-about-tennis-elbow.shtml

Reviewed October 10, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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EmpowHER Guest

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October 12, 2011 - 3:16am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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