Tennis Elbow

Information from:  [images/rb_physio]

Don’t let Tennis Elbow stop you playing the game you love!

[images/rb_physio-1] Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain on the outside of the elbow. It is clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. If the muscles and tendons on the outside of the elbow are strained, tiny tears occur and an inflammation can develop near the bony lump on the outside of the elbow. As its name suggests it is often caused or made worse by playing tennis, but can be caused by other activities that place repeated stress on the elbow joint.

Tennis elbow is usually a self limiting condition, which means most get better without treatment, but there are treatments and things you can do to improve your symptoms and speed up recovery.

  • Firstly, you should rest the injured arm and stop the activity causing the problem.
  • Holding an ice pack such as a pack of frozen peas against your elbow for 10 mins several times a day can ease the pain. Be sure to wrap the peas in a cloth.
  • Taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs i.e. ibuprofen, can help reduce inflammation.
  • Seek the advise of a good physiotherapist who can use ultrasound to relieve the muscles, plus give you specific exercises to aid recovery. Find a physiotherapist that is qualified in acupuncture, as this is also recommended to help give relief.

How to prevent tennis elbow occurring?

  •  Make sure you use the correct equipment i.e. make sure your racket is not too heavy and you have the correct grip size. Discuss this with your tennis coach. See overleaf for advice on correct grip size.
  • The wrong technique can contribute towards tennis elbow - seek advise from your tennis coach.[images/rb_physio-2]
  • General fitness - it is important to maintain a general level of fitness throughout the year, so during the winter we would recommend regular cardio exercise and/or Pilates to exercise and strengthen your core muscles. This will help prevent tennis elbow occurring when you go back to playing tennis in the summer months.
  • It is important to break yourself in gently at the start of the season, particularly if you have not played at all over the winter.

Measuring your grip size:-

[images/rb_physio-3] Place your palm against the same bevel as the string face. You should be able to fit the index finger of your non-hitting hand in the space between your ring finger and palm. If there isn’t enough room for your index finger, the grip is too small. If there is space between your finger and palm, the grip is too big. Too smaller grip requires more muscle strength to keep the racquet from twisting and a grip that is too large inhibits wrist snap on serves, making changing grips more difficult, again increasing muscle strength required. Either can
contribute to tennis elbow problems.

You can also measure your grip size using a ruler.[images/rb_physio-4] With your hand open and fingers extended close together, align the ruler with the bottom lateral crease of your palm and measure to the tip of your ring finger. It is easier to increase handle size on most racquets so if you are between grip sizes, go with the smaller size and add an overgrip to arrive at the ideal fit. A typical overgrip will increase a grip by 1/16 inch. You can also increase grip size using a heat-shrink sleeve. This will increase the grip size by 1/8 inch. We also recommend you replace your grip regularly.



21 High Street, Redbourn, Hertfordshire, AL3 7LE.

Telephone & Fax 01582 794441



Sarah Cameron

MCSP MMACP (Womens Health)

Sue Inglis


Julie Vassiliou


Shelley Williams

BSc (Hons) Ost MSc

Mark Brennan


Diane Watson


Gordon Cameron


 Members of the Health Professional Council


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