Playing tennis isn't the only cause of tennis elbow!

What really causes tennis elbow pain?

 Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy commonly known as tennis elbow is characterized by pain on the outside of your elbow. It occurs in about three percent of the adult population and is most common during middle age. 

In this post, we’ll explain what causes tennis elbow pain and the signs and symptoms you can look for to determine if you have tennis elbow pain.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

The common extensor origin (the site of attachment for the many extensor muscles of the wrist and hand) can become inflamed due to overuse and stress. You may notice this muscle most during repetitive motions, such as wrist extension and gripping.

As the name implies, tennis elbow is often caused by the repetitive force of a tennis racquet hitting balls in a backhand position, however, the pain can occur in any activity that requires repetitive wrist extension and gripping of the hand.

What is causing the pain in my elbow?

Most often it can be caused from repetitive movements, especially when gripping objects while the wrist is in an extended position. This is the main cause of tennis elbow.

However, arthritis, ligament injuries, and avulsion fractures of olecranon (tip of the elbow) after a fall are just some of the other possible causes of elbow pain. Your physiotherapist can assess your condition to determine the correct diagnosis and treatment.

The following is a list of risk factors you may have for developing tennis elbow while playing tennis:

  • Improper backhand stroke
  • Weak shoulder and wrist muscles
  • Sudden sharp increase in intensity and frequency of time played
  • Repetitively practicing backhand strokes


Don’t play tennis?

 Playing tennis isn't the only cause of tennis elbow

You do not have to play tennis in order to suffer from tennis elbow. In fact, only 5% of tennis

elbow cases are caused from playing tennis, while 95% of cases are from non-tennis related injuries.

The following is a list of risk factors for developing tennis elbow while not playing tennis

  • Sudden increase in use of wrist and forearm muscles
  • Handling heavy loads at work or in daily activities like gardening
  • Oral Corticosteroid use
  • Using Vibratory tools

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?


If you have tennis elbow, here are some of the common signs and symptoms:

  • Pain, burning and/or tenderness in the outer part of your elbow or forearm
  • Decreased or weak grip strength
  • Pain while flexing the wrist 
  • Difficulty or discomfort holding objects or heavy weights

If you have tennis elbow, your physiotherapist may do a physical exam and ask about your symptoms

Will I get better?

Good news 90% percent of patients will have improvement or resolution of symptoms within twelve months. 

Can I prevent this injury if I play tennis?

You can lower your risk of developing tennis elbow by avoiding sudden increase in training or playing, use a lighter racket or a racket with reduced string tension, and consider using a 2-handed backhand stroke. 

What can I do to get rid of my pain?

Your physiotherapist will assess your elbow pain and develop a treatment plan to reduce pain and inflammation. They will also prescribe exercises to improve strength and mobility.

 Need help with your elbow pain? Get in touch now!

Contact Our Office

What will my Physiotherapist do?

Your physiotherapist will provide you with a customized treatment plan tailored to your specific injury. This will commonly include a variety of soft tissue therapy, joint mobilizations, bracing, topical anti-inflammatories, activity modification, and rehabilitation exercise.

Call our office at 780-862-3111 and our patient experience coordinators will ensure you get booked with the best Edmonton Physiotherapist.

  • DynaMed [Internet]. Ipswich (MA): EBSCO Information Services. 1995 - . Record No. T116846, Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy; [updated 2018 Nov 30, cited December 2 2020]. Available from Registration and login required.




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