Tests & Procedures Index



Tennis Elbow

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a degenerative condition caused by repetitive stress injuries of the elbow that occur when the muscles and tendons in the elbow area are torn or damaged.

What causes tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is usually caused by repetitive activities that strain the tendons in the elbow area, such as hitting backhand in tennis or playing other raquet sports. The risk increases as your child ages and plays harder or more competitive games.

What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

The following are the most common symptoms of tennis elbow. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain, especially over the outside area of the elbow
  • Pain with wrist movement

The symptoms of tennis elbow may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for tennis elbow

Specific treatment for tennis elbow will be determined by your child's physician based on the following:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the injury
  • Child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Rest the area
  • Ice packs to the area
  • Heat therapy
  • Physical therapy and/or stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Wearing an elbow strap called a counterforce brace or a splint
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (NSAIDs)

Prevention of tennis elbow

Some tips for preventing injury include the following:

  • Perform warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after tennis play that includes stretching the muscles in the arm.
  • Use appropriately-sized tennis equipment. Racquet handles and heads that are too big or too small or strings that are too tight or too loose can put more stress on the elbow.
  • Evaluate poor tennis technique that may be contributing to the problem. Learn new ways to play that avoid repeated stress on the joints.

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Last reviewed: 1/16/2012