Spotting Tennis Elbow

Posted on behalf of Atlanta Orthopedic Surgeon

Tennis-Elbow SymptomsEven if you're not a tennis player.

Tennis Elbow is a painful muscle strain that is caused by overuse and repetitive motion. Predominant in athletes and, unsurprisingly, tennis players, the term 'Tennis elbow' is actually a misnomer. This type of strain can happen to anyone whose forearm muscles are used in a repetitive motion. Painters, golfers, and plumbers are all examples of jobs that can cause tennis elbow.

The Basics

Tennis Elbow is caused by inflammation of the tendons in the muscles of the outer arm. There are three bones that make up your elbow, the humerus, radius, and ulna.

The bump on the outside of your forearm is called the lateral epicondyle, and is the bone that causes you to out with a couple of choice swear words when you accidentally hit it on something. The tendons and ligaments that hold these bones together are the ones that are at risk for tennis elbow.


Spotting tennis elbow can be a little tricky because the symptoms develop gradually. Since repetitive motion is the culprit, there's not a specific incident that causes the injury. But there are a few tell tail signs of tennis elbow:

Tenderness, pain, or burning on the outside of the forearm/elbow
Morning stiffness or aching in the elbow
Weakness in grip strength

These symptoms often worsen over time, and with repetitive use.


Often, Tennis Elbow can be treated at home with rest and over-the-counter pain-killers such as ibuprofen or aspirin. However, there are cases where the muscles have been so damaged that physical therapy or surgery is necessary.

If your pain continues or worsens over the course of 6 weeks of rest, he best course of action is the consult a doctor. They will be able to if at-home treatment is right for you, or if a more deliberate course of action is needed.

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