Archived Newsletters

TENNIS ELBOW is a painful muscle condition

This painful muscle condition deserves its graphic name ­but it can be brought on by such mundane activities as carrying suitcases or wringing out the washing.

Q If I had tennis elbow, how would I recognize it?

A You would have a dull ache around the elbow area and upper side of the forearm, with a particular tender spot on, or near the bump that can be felt on the upper side of the elbow with the forearm placed across the chest Activities such as typing, using a squash or tennis racquet or even picking up heavy objects may be painful.

Q How soon can one resume playing squash after suffering from tennis elbow?

A That depends on how serious the injury was; you should seek your doctor's advice But it does vary considerably from person to person. In mild cases, you may only have to wait for a few days until the pain and stiffness subside, and then resume the sport gradually. More serious cases may necessitate a longer lay­off. But if you find that the tenderness returns whenever you play, then make sure you consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Q I am presently taking part in a two-week tennis tournament, but have developed a painful tennis elbow on the first day. I don't want to withdraw from the tournament, so what should I do?

A You should ask your doctor for a pain-killing injection, but he may not be willing to give it The danger is that you could seriously aggravate the injury without knowing it, thus delaying full healing for several weeks or even months. An alternative is to wear an elasticated sleeve or crepe bandage around the affected forearm. This will provide some relief from the pain and will reduce the chance of aggravating the injury. However, in the long-term, it really would be better if you rested the arm for a few days.

Q Do you only get tennis elbow from playing tennis?

A No. The injury is common in a wide variety of sports ­especially in racquet sports - and also occurs as a result of household chores and carpentry, in particular.

Tennis elbow is a very common arm injury. Although it often develops during a hard game of tennis, it can also occur in a wide variety of other sports. and e,'en as a result of non-sporting acti,'ities. Tr.e injury is not really to the elbow itself. 8m to one or more of the forearm muscles "n their point of attachment to the elhJ\. These muscles are involved ir. r:~O't', ments of the wrist and fingers. \':-.ic:-, is why it is such a common injury 2r:'Cr.2" racquet players.

of tennis elbow is due to small tears ,,'here the muscles join the lateral epicondyle.

The cause of the Injury is un­accustomed vigorous or prolonged use of the forearm muscles, especially during sports like tennis, squash, cricket and athletic throwing events. It can also be caused during everyday events like wringing out the washing or using a tool like a screwdriver.


The elbow joint forms a pivot betv:t'e:-, ::',t' humerus bone in the upper arm. an:] ::"t' two bones in the forearm. At the lYe:e"

i end of the humerus are two pro,iec:;('~"s­~ called epicondyles - to which a TI"clmct"":

C forearm muscles are attached Tf-tt' :C2::~


The pain of tennis elbow comes on gradually rather than suddenly, and is made worse by such activities as gripping something or picking up a heavy object, :~ke a full kettle. A very tender spot can 'clsually be felt at the site of the injury ·.':he,'e the forearm muscles are attached ::' the lateral epicondyle, but pain and stiffness may sometimes extend over the

·.•. bJle of the upper side of the forearm.


?est and a pain-relieving drug are ".lSlla':v sufficient to allow a return to full ,':':,t' ':1:' :he affected arm within a few days. :i:!'e pe,'sistent tennis elbow may be ::'i'~.:ec. \'ith a corticosteroid injection :'2"t':'-:e:' \'ith an anaesthetic which will '"i'~Jce :he pain and tenderness while the ::-l,'u:':: heals.

\-here the injury is severe and per­:,t:'tent. heat treatment and physio­::-.erapy are used. Some tennis players :',a,'e found acupuncture helpful.

Tennis elbow can be more than a temporary disability - it can actually hamper a successful tennis career, as in the case of the Australian star Tony Roche.

Taken from The Marshall Cavendish A to Z GUIDE IN WEEKLY PARTS, DOCTOR’S ANSWERS: PART 85, TENNIS ELBOW, Page 2356.

(Sorry. Due to the urgency of education on this site, spelling will be corrected at a later stage….All photos in the script have been left out)

Back Back to top