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Tennis elbow – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, July 05, 2018 by

Tennis elbow refers to the inflammation of the tendons that connects the muscles of the forearm to the outside of the elbow. Patients usually develop the condition if they overuse their forearm muscles and tendons, including those around the elbow joint.

Despite the name, tennis elbow isn’t always linked to the sport. But there are tennis players who develop the condition since the sport involves repetitive muscle use. About 50 percent of all tennis players develop tennis elbow in their career.

Tennis elbow affects about one to three percent of the population in the U.S. and it often occurs in people aged 30 to 50 years old.

Patients develop the condition due to the repetitive incorrect movements of the arm. This repeated motion may cause small tears in the tendon attachment at the elbow.

Among tennis players, the condition occurs because of the repeated motion and force of hitting a ball with a racket. With an incorrect technique, the power in the swing of a racket will rotate through and around the wrist. This results in a movement on the wrist instead of the elbow joint or shoulder. The movement may then increase pressure on the tendon and result in irritation and inflammation.

In most cases, the extensor muscles become painful when the tendon breaks down. The extensor muscles straighten the wrist.

Tennis elbow is connected to the extension of the fingers and the wrist. This movement lets an individual “snap” or flick their wrist, like when swinging a racket.

Tennis elbow is also called lateral elbow pain or lateral epicondylitis.

Known symptoms and risk factors for tennis elbow

The signs of tennis elbow gradually develop and most patients begin to feel mild pain as the condition progresses over several months.

The signs of tennis elbow usually include:

  • Slow and progressive pain within the elbow
  • Tenderness near the elbow region
  • Weakness in the arm that makes it hard to grasp objects

Risk factors for tennis elbow may include:

  • Occupations that causes a repetitive stress on the elbow joint (e.g. carpentry, farming, or painting).
  • Participating in a sport that involves the repetitive overuse of the wrist or arm (e.g. baseball or tennis).

Body systems harmed by tennis elbow

If left untreated, tennis elbow may cause complications like chronic elbow pain.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent tennis elbow

The following foods or nutrients can help prevent tennis elbow or address its signs:

  • Bromelain Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that can help reduce inflammation.
  • Cayenne – Cayenne is a hot spice related to bell pepper and paprika. Cayenne has capsaicin, a component that provides pain relief when applied topically. Ointments with capsaicin will help block the transmission of messages of pain from the skin to the brain.
  • Turmeric – This yellow spice used in curry can help fight inflammation.

Treatments, management plans for tennis elbow

There are various treatment methods that can help prevent tennis elbow.

  • An arm brace or a wrist splint – These accessories can help prevent further damage to the tendons when the arm is in use. The brace or splint may be taken off while resting or sleeping. Consult a healthcare professional to determine what type of brace or splint is suited to your condition.
  • Ice massages and muscle stimulating techniques – These can help the muscles heal.
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy for the condition may include exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles, shoulder, and upper arm. This will help reduce the wrist extensors during shoulder and arm movements.
  • Rest – Resting the arm lets tears in the tendon attachment heal.
  • Strapping/taping the forearm – Supporting the affected area may help realign the muscle fibers and relieve pressure. A healthcare professional may also recommend the use of a splint for two to three weeks.
  • Surgery – In rare cases where nonsurgical treatments don’t resolve signs of the condition within six to 12 months, surgery may be necessary. Surgery can help remove the damaged part of the tendon and relieve the pain. At least 80 to 95 percent of patients often recover without surgery.

Where to learn more


Tennis elbow refers to the inflammation of the tendons that connects the muscles of the forearm to the outside of the elbow.

The symptoms of tennis elbow usually include slow and progressive pain within the elbow and tenderness near the elbow region.

If left untreated, tennis elbow may cause complications like chronic elbow pain.

Various treatment methods like an arm brace or a wrist splint, ice massages and muscle stimulating techniques, physical therapy, rest, strapping and taping the forearm, and surgery can help prevent tennis elbow.

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