Tennis elbow

What is tennis elbow?tennis elbow

Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylalgia) describes an injury to one of the tendon’s that attach to the elbow. It is not an injury to the elbow joint. This tendon attaches to a muscle which extends the wrist and fingers (in particular a muscle called extensor carpi radialis brevis). Ultrasound can show some degeneration to the tendon, however this change is also found on people without any elbow pain, thus degeneration may be a normal part of aging. Because ultrasound findings don’t always explain a person’s pain, a scan is generally not initially recommended. It has been found that pain and function will improve regardless of whether a scan changes.


  • Pain localised to the outside of the elbow.
  • Pain with gripping or picking things up, especially with the elbow extended and the palm facing downwards e.g. when hammering or picking up a kettle.
  • This injury is more prevalent in manual workers and people that use their arms a lot e.g. factory workers.


  • If pain has just developed, give 6-8 weeks of rest, if there is no improvement with rest, then it is time to see your physio to exercise and strengthen the tendons.
  • Evidence tells us that physio prescribed exercise is the most effective way of treating tennis elbow, along with some manual therapy and taping.
  • These exercises SHOULD NOT be painful and long-term physiotherapy is generally not needed.
  • An ultrasound is not always necessary.

Some tips to reduce pain levels

  • Avoid aggravating activities or positions, such as gripping with the palm down.
  • Carry things with the palm up.
  • Carry things close to the body.
  • Load the tendon with physio prescribed exercises, but reduce painful manual labour.
  • Exercises should be pain free.


To book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists please call 8555 4099 or BOOK ONLINE.


Written by Luci Minogue, Physiotherapist.