What is tennis elbow?

This is a condition in which the lateral elbow is sore and tender. The pathology of this condition is still up for debate. However, it is commonly observed when the individual is required to grip repeatedly i.e. in racket sports and in heavy manual labor jobs. It is an overuse injury of the arm.

What Happens in Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow occurs most commonly in the tendon of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle lateral to the elbow joint. This occurs following overuse of the muscle. For example a tennis player hitting hundreds of balls on a regular basis will over a period of time develop micro tears in the muscle. This overtime causes local inflammation and scar tissue formation over the area of the tears and making it tender in the process.


  • Pain about 1-2 cm down from bony area at the outside of the joint.
  • Weakness in the wrist with difficulty doing simple tasks such as opening a door handle or shaking hands with someone.
  • Pain on the outside of the elbow when the hand is bent back (extended) at the wrist against resistance.
  • Pain on the outside of the elbow when trying to straighten the fingers against resistance.
  • Pain when pressing (palpating) just below the lateral epicondyle on the outside of the elbow.


  • Overuse or repetitive strain caused by repeated extension (bending back) of the
  • wrist against resistance.
  • This may be from activities such as tennis, but also in day to day activities.
  • A poor backhand technique in racket.
  • A racket grip that is too small.
  • Repetitive activities such as using a screwdriver, painting or typing.​

How do you know you have Tennis Elbow?

  • Pain in the elbow joint, especially when straightening the arm
  • Dull ache when at rest
  • Pain when making a fist (medial epicondylitis)
  • Pain when opening the fingers (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Soreness around the affected elbow bump
  • Weak grip
  • Difficulties and pain when trying to grasp objects, especially with the arm stretched out.

What to do for tennis elbow?

  • You should do the following:
  • Stop whatever you are doing.
  • Rest your elbow for a few days.
  • Use icepacks every two hours, applied for 15 minutes.
  • Massage and stretch the muscles after 48 hours to relieve stress and tension.
  • See your doctor or physiotherapist for diagnosis and further treatment, if necessary.

Disclaimer: The information is for informative purposes and not to replace proper treatment. For more information or to book an appointment please contact Sydney Physios and Allied Health Services