Physiotherapy Q&A: what is tennis elbow?

I have been told by my GP that I have tennis elbow but I have never played tennis before in my life! I have looked this condition up on the internet but have come across a lot of conflicting advice. Can you advise me on what this condition actually is and what I can do to get rid of it, please?

Tennis elbow is a common diagnosis given to pain experienced in the elbow. Its true diagnosis is actually lateral epicondylitis which literally means inflammation of the outer side of the elbow. It is a condition common with tennis players due to the repetitive nature of the strain that they put on the muscles that insert on to the outer part of the elbow but this condition is certainly not limited to tennis players. If you repetitively use your wrist and hand in any activity or overuse the hand with activities you are not used to, you can certainly develop a ‘tennis elbow’.

Common treatments involve addressing the inflammation with ice, rest, taping techniques and even some electrotherapy but if this condition persists it is useful to see your physiotherapist who will assess the underlying cause to your problem and set you some corrective exercises to stop the problem returning.

Mr Syed Ahmed

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Ahmed MBChB, LLM, MSc, FRCS (Tr & Orth.) is a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.