Five Tennis Elbow Symptoms All Players Should Know

Joseph A. Abboud, MD May 9th, 2019

 Rothman Orthopaedic Institute Describes Symptoms That Players and Coaches Need to Know!

Tennis elbow is a painful condition that many players are all too familiar with. If you or one of your tennis partners suffer from this pain, we hope you will find this article a helpful resource. At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, the goal of our Shoulder and Elbow specialists is to minimize your discomfort and get you back into the game! Expanding your understanding of tennis elbow symptoms is a great starting place.

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons that join the muscles of the forearm to the outside of the elbow. Knowing the tennis elbow definition will help you explain your condition to your healthcare provider and help you from confusing tennis elbow with a condition that may be similar. If you are a tennis coach, expanding your knowledge of this common injury will help you pinpoint tennis elbow symptoms in your players.

Elbow Anatomy

The elbow is an example of a hinge joint. An extensive network of ligaments helps the elbow joint maintain its stability. The ligaments of the elbow joint include the ulnar collateral, the radial collateral, and the annular ligaments. Because so many muscles originate or insert near the elbow, it is a common site for injury.

One common hinge joint injury is called lateral epicondylitis or "tennis elbow," which refers to inflammation surrounding the lateral (outer) epicondyle of the humerus. The lateral epicondyle is the bony knob located on the outside of your elbow. Six muscles that control backward movement (called extension) of the hand and fingers connect on the lateral epicondyle.

Repeated strenuous striking while the muscles are contracted, such as with the backhand stroke in tennis, causes strain on the tendinous muscle attachments. This action can produce pain around the epicondyle. Resting these muscles will usually bring about recovery from painful tennis elbow symptoms.

Tennis Elbow Symptoms

The main symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness in the bony knob on the outside of your elbow. This knob (called the epicondyle) is where the injured tendons connect to the bone. The pain may also radiate into the upper or lower arm. Although the damage is in the elbow, you're likely to feel pain when doing things with your hands.

Tennis elbow may cause the most pain when you:

  1. Lift something with the injured arm

  2. Make a fist or grip an object, such as a tennis racket

  3. Open a door or shake hands

  4. Raise your hand or straighten your wrist

  5. Pain or burning on the outer, bony part of the elbow with arm movements

Tennis elbow is similar to another condition called golfer's elbow, which affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow, causing pain on the inside of the elbow.

Diagnosing Tennis Elbow

To diagnose your tennis elbow, your doctor will do a thorough exam. He or she will want you to flex your arm, wrist, and elbow to see where it hurts. You may also need imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI. This is where it is of the utmost importance that you consult with a healthcare provider that is well versed in the care of elbow injuries. Having a dedicated elbow specialist who is familiar with the latest treatments for your condition is vital.

For more information about tennis elbow, please visit Rothman Orthopaedic Institute here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

Related Physicians

Filter Physicians



Please select your region to view available physicians.

Select Your Region

Related Programs

  • Cartilage Restoration Institute

    This is a center where patients can go to have their disabled joint biological resurfaced, realigned, and stabilized without having the joint replaced by artificial materials such as metal and plastic. It is well known that the outcomes of patients under the age of 50 undergoing artificial joint replacement are not as good as we would like. Therefore we feel the future of Orthopaedics is to try to restore a joint back to its original anatomy by realignment, ligament reconstruction, and cartilage restoration.
    Read More
  • Women’s Sports Medicine Program

    The Women’s Sports Medicine Program at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute is the first of its kind in the Philadelphia metro area and one of only several such programs specializing in the comprehensive care of the female athlete in the country.
    Read More
1 of 1
You are using an unsupported version of Internet Explorer. To ensure security, performance, and full functionality, please upgrade to an up-to-date browser.