What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylalgia is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow.

The muscles and tendons of the forearm can become damaged from overuse and repetitive motions, leading to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. As the name suggests, playing tennis or other racquet sports is a common cause of this condition.

However, several other sports, activities and occupations that require repetitive arm movements or grip and can lead to pain include:

  • Carpentry
  • Typing
  • Painting
  • Knitting
  • Cleaning
  • Road workers
  • Chefs and waiters.

The repeated motions and stress to the tissue may result in a series of tiny tears in the tendons and failed healing of the tendon, leading to inflammation, pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow.


The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually and there is usually no specific injury associated with the start of symptoms. In most cases, pain begins as mild and slowly worsens over weeks and months.

Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow
  • Weakened grip strength

The symptoms are often worsened with increased forearm activity, and whilst both upper limbs can be affected, tennis elbow more commonly impacts the dominant arm.

[1] Approximately 80% to 95% of patients have success with nonsurgical treatment.

Management Tips

  • Rest is the first step toward recovery
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines aid in reducing pain and swelling
  • Wrist stretching exercise with elbow extended
  • Physical therapy can help relieve muscular tension and strengthen muscles
  • Bracing can reduce symptoms by resting the muscles and tendons
  • An equipment check ensures equipment is appropriate for body size and shape

How Can An Osteopathy Help?

Osteopaths are highly trained to assist you in returning to optimal function and will work with patients to [2]:

  • Re-establish full range of motion, improve joint mobility and balance
  • Correct compensatory movement patterns that cause further strain on other parts of the body
  • Strengthen surrounding muscles that may increase likelihood of recurrent sprain
  • Minimise or reduce guarding, swelling, inflammation and associated pain
  • Prescribe exercises and education to encourage patients’ self-management