Do I Have Tennis Elbow?

Monday, April 19th, 2021


What is Tennis Elbow?


If you are suffering discomfort where the tendons of your forearm muscles connect to the bump on the outer part of your elbow, you might have lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow. This is a painful condition defined by inflammation of the elbow joint and tendons. The discomfort caused by this condition can spread to the forearm and wrist areas. 



The outer bone of the elbow is connected to the forearm tendons.  Continual tension reduces the strength of the muscle there, creating extraordinarily small tears in the tendon at the position it connects to the outside of the elbow. Inflammation and pain are common symptoms of this condition. Tennis elbow might come about because of improper athletic methods or overuse. It can also be caused by heavy lifting or repeated strenuous motion.


Lateral epicondylitis can be caused by any action involving repetitive swiveling of your wrist. This could include:


  • swimming


  • golfing


  • racquet sports


  • prolonged typing


  • frequent use of a hammer or screwdriver


Badminton players, swimmers, and of course tennis players can all experience lateral epicondylitis. It can also affect those who use their elbows, hands, and wrists for repeating activities while working such as musicians, carpenters, and painters. It is also possible for tennis elbow to be experienced without an apparent cause at all.




Tenderness and pain in the bony knob on the outer part of the elbow are the primary signs of lateral epicondylitis. The discomfort might also expand into the lower or upper arm. Pain is likely to happen even when doing things with your hands despite the fact that the injury is to the elbow.


The following are possible symptoms of tennis elbow:


  • a weak grip


  • pain spanning from the outside of the elbow down your forearm and wrist


  • Mild elbow pain that gradually worsens


  • heightened discomfort when you squeeze an object or shake hands


  • pain when you lift things, open jars, or operate tools


Diagnosing Tennis Elbow


A physical examination might be necessary to identify lateral epicondylitis. The doctor will question you about your work, and your hobbies, as well as how your symptoms came about. They will then perform some tests to assist in making a diagnosis. The following simple tests can be done yourself to determine if you have the condition and need to contact a doctor.


Use your afflicted arm to carry out the tests. Use both arms if you want a comparison.



Sit with the forearm extended out on a flat surface. 

Gently apply pressure to the lateral epicondyle and the area above. 

Note any pain, swelling, or tenderness.



Coffee Cup Test

Simply assess the degree of pain while gripping a mug of liquid.




Stretch the afflicted arm straight out with the palm facing downwards.

Put the other hand on the back of the extended hand.

Push the top hand into the lower hand while attempting to bend the bottom wrist backward.

Cause resistance by pushing the top hand against the bottom one.



Middle Finger Resistance

Extend your injured arm straight out with the palm facing up.

Use the other hand to pull the middle finger back toward the forearm.

Simultaneously, use the middle finger to resist this motion.

Turn the palm downward.

Push the middle finger down while resisting this movement.


Treatment for Tennis Elbow


If there is notable swelling or you feel that your lateral epicondylitis is a serious case, you need to get medical care. Your doctor will ascertain the reason for your symptoms and the severity of your condition.


Nonsurgical Treatments


Most tennis elbow cases are successfully cured without surgery. Before going with surgery, your doctor will first prescribe one or more of these treatments:


  • Ice


  • Rest


  • Ultrasound Therapy


  • Physical Therapy


  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medicines


  • Shock Wave Therapy 


  • Steroid Injections


Surgical Treatments


If your condition does not improve after nonsurgical treatments, surgery might be needed. The procedure could be executed either through an open incision or arthroscopically through many tiny incisions. Both types of surgeries are used to extract any dead tissue and to connect healthy muscle to the bone. After surgery, a splint will be used to keep you from moving your arm during the healing process. Temporary loss of muscle strength is common after such surgeries.




The success rate of recovery depends on how closely the treatment plan is followed. Physical therapy sessions will likely be necessary. The activity that caused the condition will probably need to be modified or avoided. Noticeable improvement should come after a few weeks of rest and treatment. Once a full recovery is made, it is important to make note of any symptoms that return.


Preventing Tennis Elbow


Here are some ways to prevent lateral epicondylitis:


  • Use the correct technique and proper equipment for whatever sport or task is being performed.


  • Maintain strength and flexibility of the forearm through exercise.


  • Ice the elbow area after intense exercise. 


  • Rest the elbow if pain is experienced when the arm is straightened. 


If these procedures are followed and straining the tendons of the elbow is avoided, the chances of lateral epicondylitis relapsing will be diminished.


The Bottom Line

If you suspect that you have tennis elbow, get in touch with Dr. Dear at Texas Panhandle Orthopedics. Our team is prepared to help you with non-surgical and surgical treatment options. Call us at (806) 502-6570 for more information or to set up an appointment.