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What is tennis elbow? All you should know about this infamous tennis condition

What is tennis elbow, the infamous injury that plagues thousands of recreational tennis players every year…


If you are experiencing the problems caused by the condition, or wish to avoid developing it yourself, you’ve come to the right place!

Tennishead lays out all you need to know about the irritating condition that will leave you in pain and derail your athletic enjoyment.

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. It is a condition that results in pain on the outside of the elbow, hence lateral epicondylitis.

The elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that move your elbow, wrist and hand. Muscles in the forearm work to stabilise the wrist when gripping. These muscles are attached to the bones in the elbow by tendons.

Famous fact: Tim Henman once had tennis elbow so badly when he was a teenager that he had to stop playing for 6 months

How do you develop tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is predominantly caused by overuse of the tendons attaching the forearm muscles to the elbow bones. This may result in inflammation near the protruding bone on the outside of the elbow.

In the particular case of racket sports like tennis and squash, improper technique or equipment may be risk factors for tennis elbow.

Who gets tennis elbow?


The condition is not exclusive to athletes and can occur in anyone who vigorously and repetitively makes use of their forearm. Of course, the repeated impact of striking a ball in tennis is one such activity.

Age and gender

Most people who experience tennis elbow are between the ages of 35 and 54 according to the NHS. It also affects those of all genders equally.

What are the symptoms?

Pain and tenderness in the area of the outside of your elbow are the two most common symptoms of tennis elbow. Such symptoms may spread down the forearm towards your wrist.

Symptoms will likely start when using the elbow but could develop into pain even when the elbow is still.

Moving the arm often aggravates symptoms, especially twisting movements, like turning a doorknob. Repetitive movements like gripping small objects, for example a pen, can result in similar pain.

Those experiencing this condition commonly experience discomfort in the following circumstances:

  • When twisting your forearm
  • When gripping small objects
  • When writing
  • When bending or lifting your arm
  • Stiffness when fully extending your arm

How long does it last?

Episodes usually last between six months and two years. However, according to the NHS, 90% of people will recover fully within a year.


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