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Tennis elbow: symptoms, treatment, exercises, home remedies

Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatments for painful tennis elbow.

Emilia Moskal - AuthorAuthorEmilia Moskal
Emilia Moskal - Author
AuthorEmilia Moskal
Natu.Care Editor

Emilia Moskal specialises in medical and psychological texts, including content for medical entities. She is a fan of simple language and reader-friendly communication. At Natu.Care, she writes educational articles.

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Tennis elbow: symptoms, treatment, exercises, home remedies
29 April, 2024
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You can't lift a coffee mug normally, and the thought of cleaning windows makes you weak. Pain accompanies you with most activities of daily living. This is the reality for sufferers of tennis elbow.

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Wondering why you have tennis elbow if you have never held a racket in your life? The name is misleading, and enthesopathy of the wrist extensor muscle attachment is most commonly suffered by... office workers, mechanics, carpenters, dentists and cleaners.

Tennis elbow is a common name for tennis elbow.

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From this article you will learn:

  • What tennis elbow is and where it comes from.
  • What the symptoms of tennis elbow are.
  • What are the symptoms of this ailment.
  • .
  • Which treatments are the most effective.
  • What are the most effective treatments?

See also:

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What is tennis elbow?

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To understand what the ailment commonly known as tennis elbow is, it is necessary to look at the structure of the elbow (or more correctly: the elbow joint).

Tennis elbow

The elbow is the junction of the humerus and elbow bones. They are connected by a joint that allows the forearm to move. At this point, the humerus has a protrusion which is called the lateral epicondyle. It is to this that the extensor muscles of the wrist and fingers attach. The place where the muscles attach to the bone is the tendonand.

Tennis elbow is nothing more than a degeneration of the tendon of the wrist extensor muscles. To be medically correct, we refer to an enthesopathy of the attachment of these muscles .

Tennis elbow versus golfer's elbow

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Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow are distinguished from each other by the site of tendon degradation. In the case of tennis elbow, this involves the tendon of the extensor muscles of the wrist attached to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, which is located on the external side of the joint. With golfer's elbow, the condition affects the tendon on the inside of the elbow - attached to the medial epicondyle of the humerusand.

Poor these athletes, you play tennis - tennis elbow, you switch to golf - golfer's elbow. It's lucky there's no office worker's elbow. Well, not necessarily... Both of these ailments mainly affect people who spend a lot of time at the computer. As far as athletes are concerned, they most often affect those who have not yet practised proper hitting techniqueand.

Causes of tennis elbow

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The cause of tennis elbow is the occurrence of multiple micro-injuries to the tendon over an extended period of time. These micro-injuries lead to the destruction of the muscle attachment by degeneration of the collagen fibresand.

Microtrauma occurs as a result of repetitive movements of the wrist in dorsiflexion. Some of these include operating a computer mouse, driving screws or turning up the ball in tennis.

Long periods of holding the wrist in flexion (and putting extra pressure on the surface with the hand) can also contribute to this condition. This is why it often occurs in professional cleaners.

The condition is also common.

Symptoms of tennis elbow

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The symptom of tennis elbow is chronic pain on the outside of the elbow joint. It very often intensifies when moving the hand or (more typically) clenching the hand into a fistand.

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Also, the pain may radiate to the forearm or even to the wrist itself. In later stages, the condition can also cause limited mobility of the elbow joint and even problems with grasping and lifting everyday objects .

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The radial nerve can be irritated by local muscle friction or local inflammation. And in this anatomical region, the posterior intercostal nerve is formed from the radial nerve. Compression and irritation of this nerve causes Ulnar Canal Syndrome, the symptoms of which are similar to tennis elbow, and sometimes both complaints occur together.
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Kacper Nihalani.

Kacper Nihalani doctor

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Interesting fact

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It is estimated that tennis elbow can affect around 40% of the population. It most commonly affects people aged 35-54and.

Test for tennis elbow

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To diagnose tennis elbow, orthopaedic surgeons and physiotherapists use several tests, which involve positioning the hand appropriately and subjecting it to some resistance or, movement or pressure. Tennis elbow is diagnosed by, among other testsand:

  • Cozena,
  • .
  • Mill,
  • .
  • Thompson,
  • .
  • Maudsley,
  • .

More often than not, a specialist will apply more than one of the tests listed above by conducting a manual examination.

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During the examination, the pain is usually worst 1-2 cm from the radial extensor short wrist attachment.
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Kacper Nihalani.

Kacper Nihalani doctor

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How to cure tennis elbow

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To cure tennis elbow, it is best to eliminate the cause of the micro-injury. Unfortunately, this is often not possible (it is difficult to change from one occupation to another overnight). Temporarily restricting the wrist movements that cause the tendon to degenerate will also help - you can get temporary sick leave for tennis elbow.

If your discomfort is caused by working at a computer, specialists recommend using a vertical computer mouse or suitable silicone pads. This will help to position your wrist in a more comfortable position.

Home remedies for tennis elbow include cold compresses, cabbage compresses and appropriate exercises - the effectiveness of these methods has been confirmed by research. Others include poultices made from vinegar, resinoid or plantain leaves, but here the therapeutic effect is not certain.

There are many methods to support tennis elbow.

There are many methods to help treat wrist extensor muscle attachment enthesopathy. Remember, however, not to treat on your own - the appropriate therapy should always be tailored for you by an expert: an orthopaedist or physiotherapist.

Tennis elbow ointments

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Tennis elbow ointments and creams usually have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect. This means that they do not cure the disease, but only mask its symptom, which is pain. However, they can aid therapy and make your daily life easier.

Collagen supplementation for tennis elbow

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Since tennis elbow is caused by the degradation of collagen fibres, why not supplement the body's collagen deficiency? Indeed, supplementation of collagen can help to renew its structures in the skin and reduce the risk of further damage.

For tendon problems, it is worth choosing a supplement of type I or type I and III collagen. Preferably in the form of a hydrolysate of fish origin, providing at least 5000 mg of collagen per daily serving. Choose supplements based on a readily available, high-quality formula, such as SeaGarden.

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The formula contains a sufficient portion of the active ingredient to positively affect joints, the musculoskeletal system and immunity.

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Pros and cons

Fish collagen from the Natu.Care brand in a dose of 5000 mg, based on certified ingredients of the best quality. Regular supplementation will positively influence the appearance of the skinóry, hairów and nails – they will be rebuilt and strengthened from the inside.

In addition to collagen, which is valuable for health and beauty, it also offers other active ingredients that help to maintain a youthful complexion, shiny hair and strong nails.

The formula contains a sufficient portion of the active ingredient to positively affect joints, the musculoskeletal system and immunity.

Natu.Care Premium Collagen is available in two – Cacao Bloom and Rise&Shine flavours. Both formulas are based on the following active ingredients: marine collagen hydrolysate, wild róve bud extract and hyaluronic acid.

Additionally, Cacao Bloom contains natural L-theanine, coenzyme Q10 and defatted Dutch cacao. Rise&Shine instead contains vitamin E and vitamin A.

These are the best collagens in the world.

These best fish collagens on the market also rós taste – Cacao Bloom is a treat for chocolate lovers. Rise&Shine will appeal to those whoólike the refreshing taste of mangoófruit and passion fruit.

Additional information

Fish collagen from the Natu.Care brand in a dose of 5000 mg, based on certified ingredients of the best quality. Regular supplementation will positively influence the appearance of the skinóry, hairów and nails – they will be rebuilt and strengthened from the inside.

In addition to collagen, which is valuable for health and beauty, it also offers other active ingredients that help to maintain a youthful complexion, shiny hair and strong nails.

The formula contains a sufficient portion of the active ingredient to positively affect joints, the musculoskeletal system and immunity.

Natu.Care Premium Collagen is available in two – Cacao Bloom and Rise&Shine flavours. Both formulas are based on the following active ingredients: marine collagen hydrolysate, wild róve bud extract and hyaluronic acid.

Additionally, Cacao Bloom contains natural L-theanine, coenzyme Q10 and defatted Dutch cacao. Rise&Shine instead contains vitamin E and vitamin A.

These are the best collagens in the world.

These best fish collagens on the market also rós taste – Cacao Bloom is a treat for chocolate lovers. Rise&Shine will appeal to those whoólike the refreshing taste of mangoófruit and passion fruit.

User review

Fish collagen from the Natu.Care brand in a dose of 5000 mg, based on certified ingredients of the best quality. Regular supplementation will positively influence the appearance of the skinóry, hairów and nails – they will be rebuilt and strengthened from the inside.

In addition to collagen, which is valuable for health and beauty, it also offers other active ingredients that help to maintain a youthful complexion, shiny hair and strong nails.

The formula contains a sufficient portion of the active ingredient to positively affect joints, the musculoskeletal system and immunity.

Natu.Care Premium Collagen is available in two – Cacao Bloom and Rise&Shine flavours. Both formulas are based on the following active ingredients: marine collagen hydrolysate, wild róve bud extract and hyaluronic acid.

Additionally, Cacao Bloom contains natural L-theanine, coenzyme Q10 and defatted Dutch cacao. Rise&Shine instead contains vitamin E and vitamin A.

These are the best collagens in the world.

These best fish collagens on the market also rós taste – Cacao Bloom is a treat for chocolate lovers. Rise&Shine will appeal to those whoólike the refreshing taste of mangoófruit and passion fruit.

Tennis elbow brace

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Bands, orthoses and stabilisers are medical devices used to relieve pressure on muscle attachments. Some models also exert variable pressure on the affected area, which is somewhat similar to a massage and promotes muscle relaxation.

Taping for tennis elbow

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Taping (actually kinesiotaping) has recently become very fashionable, especially among athletes. Special tapes are stuck along the muscle fibres, in a position of maximum stretch. Their purpose is to reduce muscle tension.

This can alleviate pain, but does not assist the muscle in performing movements. This technique can be used adjunctively, but will not cure tennis elbow on its own.

The technique can be used as an aid, but will not cure tennis elbow on its own.

Exercises for tennis elbow

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Rehabilitation can improve joint mobility and strengthen muscles. Properly conducted exercises can also promote muscle relaxation.

Interestingly, there is still no clear evidence in scientific studies to support the effectiveness of exercise programmes in treating the pain and functional problems associated with tennis elbowand.

Is it not worth exercising then? It is worth it, but it is best done to prevent the condition. If you are at increased risk of tennis elbow, it is recommended that you do simple exercises to stretch the wrist extensor muscles. For example, you can straighten your arm at the elbow, lift your fingers up and gently press them together, or bend and straighten your wrists from time to time.

It is also very helpful to roll the extensors, i.e. rolling the forearm with a special roller. Guide the roller with even pressure from the wrist up to the elbow and back.

Rollers are also very helpful.

Shockwave for tennis elbow

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Shockwave is a safe and non-invasive treatment that is widely used to treat orthopaedic conditions. It involves the application of a special head to the painful area, which generates an acoustic wave of high, surging pressure. This wave penetrates the body to a depth of several centimetres.

Results from several studies conducted between 2018 and 2021 suggest that the shock wave can improve grip strength in patients suffering from tennis elbow. Some of the studies have also shown an effect on pain reduction, but on this subject the conclusions are not consistentand.

Injections for tennis elbow

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Among the injections used to treat tennis elbow, the most common are injections of platelet-rich plasma or corticosteroids (known as blockade).

Corticosteroids have an analgesic effect and fight inflammation, but do not contribute to the regeneration of damaged tissues. On the contrary, when used for prolonged periods, they can accelerate its degenerationand.

An interesting study showing the effects of steroids is reported by Medical Doctor Kacper Nihalani:

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"In a study comparing the efficacy of steroids, physiotherapy and discontinuation of physical activity that worsens the patient's condition (known in English as watch and wait), we found that at the start of treatment (after six weeks) with steroid injections, symptoms improved significantly compared with physiotherapy and the watch and wait strategy.

In contrast, after 52 weeks, those using steroids had even worse symptoms, while those who used physiotherapy or the watch and wait strategy were almost cured."

platelet-rich plasma is instead extracted from the patient's blood. The concentration of platelets in it is higher than in 'normal' blood. Its use originated in plastic surgery, but it is now also successfully used in sports medicine and some orthopaedic conditions.

Despite this, there are still no clear guidelines for standardising the composition and processing methods of preparations used for platelet-rich plasma injection. However, most studies suggest significant benefits in improving the function of patients with tendinopathies (this group of conditions includes tennis elbow)and.

Important

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No matter what type of preparation is administered, injections should always be performed by an orthopaedic surgeon.

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Bubbles, or maybe surgery...?

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Some people claim that the power of bubbles is salutary. Although this sounds like a typical baby way, in practice the use of silicone 'bubbles' simply amounts to massaging the affected area. Will such a massage be effective? You'll have to find out for yourself (your own elbow?), as I couldn't find any studies on this method. I would probably stay with the shockwave...

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On the other pole of invasiveness is surgery. In some cases of tennis elbow, arthroscopy can be used. The orthopaedic surgeon can thus clean the tissues of fibrosis and osteophytes and reconstruct selected tissues. As a result, mobility in the joint may improve and pain may resolve or decreaseand.

Despite the high success rate of arthroscopic treatment  it is not the first choice method used among specialists. Initially, your doctor will probably offer you the treatment options described above that do not affect the skin envelope.

What is the risk of untreated tennis elbow

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Neglected and untreated tennis elbow can consequently lead to weakness of the wrist extensor muscles or permanent degeneration of the tendon tissue. In extreme cases, this can result in disability of the affected limband.

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First and foremost, untreated tennis elbow will simply hurt. And this will effectively take away the enjoyment of not only sporting activities, but will also hinder normal daily activities .

See also:

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Summary

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  • Tennis elbow is the common name for enthesopathy of the attachment of the extensor muscles to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.
  • The ailment is caused by multiple micro-traumas that affect the tendon tissue over a long period of time.
  • Tennis elbow is a common name for enthesopathy.
  • Tennis elbow manifests as pain on the outside of the elbow joint, which can radiate to the forearm and wrist.
  • .
  • People who regularly make monotonous movements of the wrist or are forced to hold the wrist in one position (office workers, dentists, mechanics, cleaners) are at risk of tennis elbow.
  • .
  • The most effective treatments for tennis elbow include shockwave, platelet-rich plasma injections and, in some cases, arthroscopy.
  • .

FAQ

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. What are the treatments for tennis elbow?.

The most effective treatment for tennis elbow is shockwave. Its high pressure is effective in reducing pain and improving the function of the affected limb. Platelet-rich plasma injections can also help, which promote the regeneration of collagen fibres.

. What exercises are best for tennis elbow?.

Exercises will work best to prevent tennis elbow. To prevent the condition from developing, it is a good idea to stretch the wrist extensor muscles regularly - several times a day.

Bending and straightening the wrist with the hand straight or stretching the fingers can be helpful. For the prevention of tennis elbow, collagen supplementation may also be beneficial.

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. How long does it take to treat tennis elbow?.

Most commonly, treatment for tennis elbow lasts between six months and a year. During this time, the ailment resolves in approximately 90% of patients. Relieving the pressure on the limb, which is helped by the pain, contributes to a rapid recovery.

Patients often also opt for sick leave if tennis elbow is the result of work-related activities.

. How to wear a brace for tennis elbow?.

It is important that the brace you use is a narrow strap, not a sleeve that covers the whole elbow and part of the arm and forearm. The brace should fit snugly against the skin to relieve pressure on the muscle attachment in the lateral epicondyle area.

The stabiliser should be worn on the forearm, just below the elbow joint. Your doctor or physiotherapist will advise you on the correct way to wear it.

The correct way to wear it will be recommended by your doctor or physiotherapist.

. How to put on a tennis elbow brace.

The stabilising part of the brace should adhere at the wrist extensor muscle attachments. It will usually be fitted with an additional pad or brace to further relieve pressure on the muscles.

When fitting an orthosis, the most important thing is to choose the right size and adjust the amount of compression. The brace must not interfere with circulation, but it must fit tightly to the skin to fulfil its purpose. Most models have adjustable Velcro fastening straps for this purpose.

. How do I find out if I have tennis elbow?.

To diagnose tennis elbow, it is best to see an orthopaedic surgeon. The doctor will perform a manual examination and tests to confirm the condition. He or she will also suggest the appropriate treatment to relieve the pain and improve the function of the affected limb.

Teniscus elbow is the most common treatment.

The simplest at-home way to diagnose tennis elbow is to place your bent arm on a table and clench your fingers into a fist. Then bring your fist to your side, put your other hand over it and try to straighten your fist, resisting with your palm. If you feel pain, you may be suffering from tennis elbow. However, remember to confirm your suspicions with your doctor.

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. Where does it hurt with tennis elbow?.

With tennis elbow, the pain is concentrated on the outside of the elbow joint. It may radiate to the forearm and wrist. It often intensifies when clenching your fingers into a fist or grasping. You may also feel it more intensely when moving your forearm.

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Emilia Moskal - Author

Natu.Care Editor

Emilia Moskal specialises in medical and psychological texts, including content for medical entities. She is a fan of simple language and reader-friendly communication. At Natu.Care, she writes educational articles.

Kacper Nihalani - Reviewed by
Verified by an expert

A doctor working at St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight in the UK.

Bartholomew Turczynski - Edited by

Editor-in-Chief

Bartłomiej Turczyński is the editor-in-chief of Natu.Care. He is responsible for the quality of the content created on Natu.Care, among others, and ensures that all articles are based on sound scientific research and consulted with industry specialists.

Ludwig Jelonek - Fact-checking

Natu.Care Editor

Ludwik Jelonek is the author of more than 2,500 texts published on leading portals. His content has found its way into services such as Ostrovit and Kobieta Onet. At Natu.Care, Ludwik educates people in the most important area of life - health.

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