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Tennis elbow

Contrary to common belief, this condition is not limited to tennis players. As the name suggests, this condition often affects tennis players, but they are not the only ones.
Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is the pain which occurs on the outer part of the tendon of your elbow. You might’ve felt this pain, especially if you haven’t not stretched your body prior to playing.

The pain associated with tennis elbow can be a result of a strain or a tear of the elbow tendon. The sudden tug to the tendon causes strain and/or friction, and may cause degeneration of the lateral elbow.

Predisposing Factors

Tennis elbow is most common in these people:

  • Laborers – people who does work with their hands such as factory workers, painters, gardeners, carpenters and all other jobs associated with lifting heavy objects. These people are more prone to developing tennis elbow. Some people may also feel this pain following excessive mouse use and keyboarding (i.e., typist, transcriptionist, etc.).
  • Sports Enthusiasts/Professionals – These people are prone to developing this condition, especially tennis players – which could be the reason behind the name of this condition, because of the repetitive stress on the elbow tendon.

Chief Complaint

  • Pain on the outer part of elbow which is more intense when trying to grasp certain object using your hands.
  • Pain upon lifting heavy objects.
  • Gradual pain of elbow or worsened pain by certain activity.
  • Pain that radiates down the forearm.
  • Pain when shaking hands.

Image on the left shows an inflamed tendon visible through ultrasound

Diagnostic Tests

  • X-ray images may be ordered to rule out any bone involvement.
  • Ultrasound may be used to visualize soft tissues, especially with the elbow area. With this, we can see an inflammation and/or tear of the tendon.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) shows clearer view of the soft tissues to better evaluate the condition.
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) – If diagnosis cannot be confirmed by the once listed, NCS will be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Physical Examination

Following your discussion with the orthopedic specialist in regard to your complaints, the nature of your job, hobbies, and prior injuries, your specialist will determine which tests are needed to arrive at a diagnosis. He may then ask you to locate the pain with palpation, as well as demonstrate the motion that aggravates your symptoms.


Since pain is the main concern for this condition, these are the following conservative, alternative, and non-conservative treatments:

  • Ice – as ice has its natural anti-inflammatory effects, icing a couple of times per day may help you alleviate your symptoms.
  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories – This drug group is the simplest remedy to treat the pain caused by the tennis elbow. Pain medication like Panadol can be taken as well.
  • Physical Therapy – A course of physical therapy could be done to help your tendons recover and alleviate the pain symptoms. You just need to be very committed with the needed sessions. Meet our physiotherapists.
  • Steroid injections – If the pain is long term and still persistent even with the above conservative treatment, your orthopedic specialist may also use the option to give cortisone injections to manage the severe pain caused by the tennis elbow.
  • Percutaneous Electrolysis Therapy (EPTE©) – the sought after choice of most people, especially athletes, suffering from long term tennis elbow. Click here to know more about the EPTE© treatment.
  • Tennis Elbow Surgery – Lastly, if all other pain management is unhelpful because of recurrent pain or if tendon tear is evident and cannot be managed by just conservative treatments, surgery is already highly needed.

Should you want to be evaluated for your elbow pain, click here to book an appointment with our orthopedic specialists.