How to Prevent Tennis Elbow

June 24, 2022
How to Prevent Tennis Elbow

These tips help prevent elbow pain when playing tennis and performing other activities.

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a common but painful condition caused by overusing or straining your arm. This creates inflammation or tears in the tendon that attaches your forearm muscles to your elbow, causing pain from your elbow to your wrist.

Despite its name, you don't need to play tennis to get tennis elbow. Any repetitive activity that puts stress on the tendons in your arm can cause the condition, including typing, knitting, golfing, painting, exercising or even carrying heavy items.

How to Avoid Tennis Elbow

Repetitive movements can put a strain on your muscles and tendons. If your work or leisure activities require that you continually perform the same motion, you are more susceptible to injury. Here are some things that can help:

  • Stop doing any activity that causes pain or find alternate ways to do it
  • Use your full arm when possible instead of just moving your wrist or elbow
  • Make motions smooth and less jerky
  • Warm up and stretch arm muscles before doing activities involving repetitive motion
  • Change your position frequently or take breaks
  • Use a looser grip on racquets or tools to relieve some of the tension in your hand
  • Make sure you're using the proper technique when playing sports or doing other activities
  • Increase the strength of the muscles around your shoulder, elbow, forearm and wrist.

How to Treat Tennis Elbow

These steps can help ease the pain of tennis elbow:

  • Rest your elbow. Give your elbow time to heal by avoiding the movements that cause pain.
  • Identify pain triggers. Do certain repetitive motions or positions cause pain? Make note of these triggers and try to limit them.
  • Modify your movements. Learn to use proper mechanics. Try not to bend or straighten your arm all the way.

If you still have pain after resting and modifying your movements, talk to a specialist about other treatments, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Ice and topical analgesics
  • Strength-building exercises
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Elbow bracing
  • Surgery (about 1 % of cases require surgery)

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Date Last Reviewed: April 24, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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