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Guide to Tennis Elbow: 7 Facts You Should Know for Prevention and Recovery

Guide to Tennis Elbow: 7 Facts You Should Know for Prevention and Recovery

Tennis elbow pain, or lateral epicondylitis, affects 1-3% of the general population. Most susceptible are individuals between 30-50 years old who engage in repetitive wrist motions. If you’re experiencing elbow pain and tenderness, it likely indicates an overuse injury in the forearm muscles and tendons. Read on as we walk you through the essential facts about tennis elbow and tips on prevention and recovery from Medanta’s experts.

Understanding Tennis Elbow in Depth

Tennis elbow pain, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, refers to pain and inflammation stemming from the tendons that join the forearm muscles to the bone on the outside of the elbow.

It is an overuse injury caused by repetitive gripping activities involving actions like twisting, and flick movements of the wrist and forearm. Racquet sports, manual jobs, household chores, etc. that strain the tendon attachment are common culprits. Genetics, technique, and underlying health issues also play a role.

Recognizing the Symptoms

The most prominent symptoms of tennis elbow injury include:

  • Pain or tenderness focused on the bony prominence on the outer elbow - Most noticeable when pressure is applied to the area. Pain typically starts mild and worsens over weeks.
  • Pain radiating from the outer elbow into the forearm and wrist - Pain may shoot down the arm when grasping objects due to inflamed tendons.
  • Weakened grip strength and fine motor control - Difficulty grasping objects tightly, inability to hold items in hand. Dropping objects becomes common.
  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion - Loss of extension in the elbow joint. General stiffness worsens after periods of inactivity.
  • Tenderness - Localized tenderness along the lateral epicondyle upon touch. Hurts when pressure is applied.
  • Swelling - Some mild swelling is visible over the bony knob at the elbow as inflammation increases.

Accurate Diagnosis at Medanta

At Medanta, getting an accurate diagnosis is key before proceeding with treatment. Our skilled orthopedic specialists conduct:

  • Thorough physical examination of the elbow, wrist, and arm muscles to pinpoint the location of pain and identify any loss in strength or range of motion.
  • Review of medical history to understand activities, and trauma and identify potential causes that could have led to the symptoms.
  • Imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans to gain further insight into the pathology and rule out other conditions like arthritis, bone spur, fracture, or tendon tear.

Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly quicken recovery and prevent the recurrence of tennis elbow pain.

Tennis Elbow Prevention: Reduce Your Risk

You can take certain preventive measures to avoid tennis elbow:

  • Exercise regularly to strengthen muscles - Focus on eccentric exercises for the wrist extensor muscles like wrist curls. Also do stretches and flexibility exercises. Building strength protects from overuse injuries.
  • Use proper equipment and technique for racquet sports - Use a racquet with an appropriate grip size, string tension, and weight. Consider vibration dampeners. Use the correct wrist action and strokes to avoid strain.
  • Take adequate breaks during repetitive gripping tasks - Take short breaks every 30-60 minutes during prolonged tasks involving gripping motions like typing, gardening, or using tools. Let the tissues rest.
  • Maintain proper posture and wrist position when working - Avoid using an awkward grip or bent wrist which strains the tendon attachment at the elbow. Keep wrists straight.
  • Use an elbow brace or counterforce strap - The compression helps take stress off the affected tendon. Can be used preventively during activities.
  • Modify activity techniques to reduce elbow strain - Switch hands during tasks, use two hands instead of one, change grip position, etc.
  • Limit forceful wrist movements - Go easy on heavy lifting, hitting, throwing, etc. Restrict racquet sports during symptom flare-ups.
  • Address other risk factors - Being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, etc. increase injury risk. Make necessary lifestyle changes.

Making small tweaks to your daily activities, using the right techniques and equipment while playing sports, and building arm strength can go a long way in preventing tennis elbow.

Recovery: Regain Mobility at Medanta

If you develop tennis elbow, don’t wait too long before seeking treatment. At Medanta, our expert orthopedic surgeons offer tailored solutions for relief and recovery.

Nonsurgical Treatment

For mild or initial cases, we first try nonsurgical approaches like:

  • Activity modification - Avoiding pain-inducing motions and engaging only in pain-free activities.
  • Elbow brace - Wearing a counterforce brace that applies pressure to reduce strain at the tendon attachment.
  • Physical therapy - Stretches, eccentric exercises, and mobilizations to provide relief and improve flexibility.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication - Oral NSAIDs, and topical creams that reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Steroid injections - Cortisone injections at the elbow to decrease inflammation and pain.

Surgical Treatment

In severe long-standing cases not responding to conservative treatment, surgery may be required to address the damaged tendon tissue.

  • Tendon release - Releasing and removing the affected tendon portion to unpinch it.
  • Tendon repair - Reattaching the torn tendon back to the bone using sutures.
  • Tendon transfer - Rerouting a nearby healthy tendon to replace the damaged one.

Our orthopedic specialists determine the best surgical procedure based on factors like age, injury duration, activity levels, profession, etc. State-of-the-art facilities like arthroscopy aid in quicker recovery.


Post-surgery, our physical therapists create personalized rehab programs involving controlled stretching, eccentric strengthening exercises, and a gradual return to activities. Regular therapy is key for complete recovery and preventing recurrence.

Consult Medanta's Experts

Has tennis elbow injury been causing you persistent pain and discomfort? Get in touch with Dr. Raman Kant Aggarwal, Director - Institute of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopaedics at Medanta. With over 33 years of experience, he specializes in sports injuries and arthroscopic surgery.

Dr. Raman Kant Aggarwal
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