How to fix tennis elbow?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 2, 2024

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow. This discomfort is usually due to overuse of the muscles and tendons in the forearm. While commonly associated with tennis players, it can affect anyone who repeatedly uses their forearm muscles. Here, we will explore various methods to fix tennis elbow, from immediate relief strategies to long-term solutions and preventive measures.

Understanding Tennis Elbow

To effectively address tennis elbow, it's crucial to understand its underlying causes. The condition arises when the tendons in the forearm become overloaded, typically due to repetitive motions. This can lead to inflammation, microscopic tears, and eventually, chronic pain if not treated properly. Common activities that may lead to tennis elbow include:

  • Racquet sports
  • Typing and computer work
  • Manual labor (e.g., painting, carpentry)
  • Playing musical instruments

Immediate Relief Strategies

Rest and Activity Modification

One of the first steps in managing tennis elbow is to rest the affected arm and avoid activities that exacerbate the pain. This might mean taking a break from sports, altering your work habits, or using ergonomic tools to reduce strain on your forearm.

Ice Therapy

Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and numb the pain. Use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth and apply it to the elbow for 15-20 minutes several times a day.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. These should be used as directed and only for short-term relief.

Physical Therapy and Exercises

Stretching Exercises

Stretching the muscles and tendons in the forearm can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility. A common stretch involves extending your arm out in front of you, palm facing down, and gently pulling your fingers back towards your body with your other hand.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the muscles of the forearm can aid in recovery and prevent future injuries. Start with light weights or resistance bands and perform exercises such as wrist extensions, wrist flexions, and forearm pronation/supination.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can provide personalized exercises and techniques to aid in recovery. They may also use modalities such as ultrasound or massage to reduce pain and promote healing.

Advanced Treatment Options

Bracing and Supports

A counterforce brace or forearm strap can help reduce strain on the tendons by distributing pressure away from the point of pain. These supports can be worn during activities to provide relief.

Corticosteroid Injections

For more severe cases, corticosteroid injections can provide significant pain relief by reducing inflammation. However, these are generally considered a short-term solution and should be used cautiously due to potential side effects.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

PRP therapy involves injecting a concentration of the patient's own platelets into the affected tendon to promote healing. This treatment is still being researched, but some studies have shown promising results for chronic tennis elbow.

Surgical Intervention

In rare cases where conservative treatments fail, surgery may be necessary. Surgical options include debridement of the damaged tendon tissue or repairing the tendon itself. This is usually considered a last resort due to the risks and recovery time involved.

Preventive Measures

Ergonomic Adjustments

Making ergonomic adjustments in your daily activities can help prevent tennis elbow. This might include using tools with ergonomic handles, adjusting your workstation, or taking regular breaks to avoid repetitive strain.

Proper Technique

Whether in sports or daily tasks, using the proper technique can significantly reduce the risk of developing tennis elbow. Consider taking lessons from a professional to improve your form and reduce unnecessary strain on your forearm muscles.

Regular Exercise

Maintaining overall muscle strength and flexibility through regular exercise can help prevent injuries. Focus on a balanced workout routine that includes both cardiovascular and strength training exercises.

Alternative Therapies


Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain. Some individuals find relief from tennis elbow symptoms through this traditional Chinese medicine practice.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and improve circulation in the affected area. Deep tissue massage, in particular, may provide relief for chronic pain.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors can provide adjustments and soft tissue therapies that may help alleviate the symptoms of tennis elbow. They can also offer advice on posture and ergonomics to prevent future issues.

Herbal Remedies

Some herbal remedies, such as arnica or turmeric, have anti-inflammatory properties and may provide relief when used topically or taken as supplements. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

Listening to Your Body

Ultimately, the key to fixing tennis elbow lies in listening to your body and taking proactive steps to manage symptoms. By combining rest, exercise, and possibly professional treatments, you can find a path to recovery that suits your individual needs.

Recovery is a journey, and understanding the nuances of your body's response can lead to more effective and personalized care strategies.

Related Questions

What causes tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition that affects the tendons around the outside of the elbow. Despite its name, this painful condition affects not only tennis players but also individuals who engage in various activities that involve repetitive arm and wrist motions. Understanding the root causes of tennis elbow is essential for prevention and effective treatment.

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