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Tackling Tennis Elbow: A Guide to Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation

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Tackling Tennis Elbow: A Guide to Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a common overuse injury affecting the tendons in the elbow, typically caused by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm (1). Despite its name, this condition isn't exclusive to tennis players; it can affect anyone engaging in activities involving repetitive arm movements. Fortunately, physiotherapy offers effective strategies for managing and rehabilitating tennis elbow, providing relief and promoting recovery.

Understanding Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow primarily affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow, leading to pain and tenderness (2). Symptoms may include a dull ache or burning sensation on the outer part of the elbow, weakened grip strength, and difficulty performing activities involving wrist and arm movements.

Signs and Symptoms

Recognising the signs and symptoms of tennis elbow is essential for timely intervention. Persistent elbow pain that worsens with gripping or lifting objects, along with tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, may indicate the presence of this condition (4). If symptoms persist or worsen despite conservative measures, seeking further medical evaluation is advisable.

How Physiotherapy Helps

Forearm stretch for tennis elbow pain relief

A physiotherapist plays a crucial role in the management of tennis elbow by providing personalised treatment plans tailored to the individual's needs (3). Through various techniques such as manual therapy, exercise prescription, and targeted advice, physiotherapy aims to reduce pain, improve flexibility, and strengthen the affected muscles and tendons.

When to Seek Urgent Help

While tennis elbow typically responds well to conservative treatment, certain signs may indicate the need for urgent medical attention. Severe pain, sudden swelling, inability to move the elbow, or signs of infection such as redness and warmth warrant prompt evaluation by a healthcare professional (5).

Jargon Buster

  • Lateral Epicondylitis: Inflammation of the tendons on the outside of the elbow.
  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques performed by a physiotherapist to manipulate muscles and joints.
  • Modalities: Therapeutic techniques or tools used in physiotherapy, such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation.

Myth Buster

One common myth surrounding tennis elbow is that it only affects tennis players. In reality, this condition can develop in individuals engaging in various repetitive arm movements, such as painters, plumbers, or even office workers who spend prolonged periods typing on a keyboard (6).

Management Duration

The management of tennis elbow typically involves a combination of physiotherapy, rest, and activity modification. While the duration of recovery varies from person to person, most individuals experience significant improvement within a few weeks to months with consistent adherence to treatment and rehabilitation exercises (7).

Self-Management Strategies

In addition to physiotherapy sessions, self-management strategies can play a crucial role in managing tennis elbow. These may include gentle stretching exercises, application of ice packs to reduce inflammation, and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms. Maintaining good posture and using ergonomic equipment can also help prevent recurrence (8).

eMed Physiotherapy

eMed physiotherapy offers the convenience of accessing physiotherapy services remotely, allowing individuals to receive personalised care from the comfort of their homes. Through teleconsultations and online exercise programs, eMed physiotherapy facilitates continuity of care and promotes active participation in rehabilitation.

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Tennis elbow can be a debilitating condition, but with the right approach, it's manageable. Physiotherapy plays a central role in alleviating symptoms, restoring function, and preventing recurrence. By understanding the condition, recognizing its signs, and adopting appropriate rehabilitation strategies, individuals can effectively overcome tennis elbow and resume their daily activities pain-free.


  • 1. Mishra AK, Skrepnik NV, Edwards SG, et al. Efficacy of platelet-rich plasma for chronic tennis elbow: a double-blind, prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial of 230 patients. Am J Sports Med. 2014;42(2):463-471. doi:10.1177/0363546513494359
  • 2. Smidt N, Assendelft WJ, Arola H, et al. Effectiveness of physiotherapy for lateral epicondylitis: a systematic review. Ann Med. 2003;35(1):51-62. doi:10.1080/07853890310004952
  • 3. Bisset L, Paungmali A, Vicenzino B, Beller E. A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials on physical interventions for lateral epicondylalgia. Br J Sports Med. 2005;39(7):411-422. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2004.016170
  • 4. Coombes BK, Bisset L, Vicenzino B. Efficacy and safety of corticosteroid injections and other injections for management of tendinopathy: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Lancet. 2010;376(9754):1751-1767. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61160-9
  • 5. Smith BE, Hendrick P, Bateman M, et al. Musculoskeletal pain and exercise- challenging existing paradigms and introducing new. Br J Sports Med. 2019;53(14):907-912. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-099750
  • 6. Haker E, Lundeberg T. Laser treatment applied to acupuncture points in lateral humeral epicondylalgia. A double-blind study. Pain. 1990;43(2):243-247. doi:10.1016/0304-3959(90)90040-K
  • 7. Dones VC, Grimmer K, Thoirs K, Suarez C. Evidence of physiotherapy practice in the management of lateral epicondylalgia: a systematic review. Eura Medicophys. 2005;41(4):311-327.
  • 8. Bisset L, Smidt N, Van der Windt DA, et al. Conservative treatments for tennis elbow do subgroups of patients respond differently? Rheumatology (Oxford). 2007;46(10):1601-1605. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kem156

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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