physiotherapy for tennis elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, results from the overuse of forearm muscles, leading to pain and discomfort around the elbow. This condition affects not only athletes but anyone involved in activities requiring repetitive arm movements. In this guide, we delve into the symptoms, causes, and effective physiotherapy for tennis elbow, aiming to help you better understand the condition and its treatment.

Understanding Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow manifests through a range of symptoms and is often the result of various activities. Here’s an in-depth look:

Symptoms to Recognize

  • Persistent pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, which might extend into the forearm and wrist.
  • Increased discomfort when performing activities that involve gripping or lifting, sometimes even affecting simple tasks such as shaking hands or turning a doorknob.
  • A noticeable weakness in the grip strength, making it challenging to hold onto objects.

What Triggers Tennis Elbow?

Understanding what triggers tennis elbow is key to prevention and effective management. Common triggers include:

  • Overuse of the Forearm Muscles: Repetitive motions, such as gripping, twisting, or lifting, especially with poor ergonomic practices, can lead to tennis elbow.
  • Sudden Increase in Activity: Abruptly increasing the intensity or frequency of activities that involve the use of forearm muscles without proper conditioning can trigger symptoms.
  • Improper Technique: Engaging in sports or work-related activities with incorrect form or technique can put unnecessary stress on the elbow tendons and muscles.
  • Age and Occupation: Individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 and those in occupations requiring repetitive arm movements are at higher risk of developing tennis elbow.

Treating Tennis Elbow With Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is highly effective in managing tennis elbow, offering various treatment modalities aimed at alleviating pain and restoring function:

  • Manual Therapy: Techniques such as soft tissue massage and joint mobilization can reduce stiffness and improve mobility in the elbow and forearm.
  • Strengthening and Stretching Exercises: Custom exercises target the affected muscles, helping to balance muscle strength and flexibility, which are crucial for recovery and prevention of future injuries.
  • Activity Modification Advice: Providing education and advice on how to adjust daily activities and workplace ergonomics to prevent aggravation of the condition.

Can Tennis Elbow Hurt Your Wrist?

Tennis elbow can have implications beyond the elbow, potentially affecting the wrist due to the interconnected nature of the arm’s musculoskeletal system:

  • The strain from the elbow can radiate towards the wrist, especially if the forearm muscles are weak or overly tight, leading to discomfort and reduced functionality in the wrist.
  • Incorporating exercises that strengthen the entire arm, including the wrist, into a rehabilitation program can help alleviate this issue, ensuring a holistic approach to recovery.

Massaging Tennis Elbow: Do’s and Don’ts

Massage therapy can play a supportive role in treating tennis elbow, aiding in pain relief and flexibility. To ensure it’s beneficial and not detrimental to your recovery, here are some essential do’s and don’ts:


  • Seek Professional Guidance: Always start with a consultation from a physiotherapist or a massage therapist familiar with tennis elbow to tailor the massage approach to your specific needs.
  • Use Gentle Techniques: Apply soft techniques to reduce tension around the elbow, avoiding direct pressure on painful spots. Professionals can show you how to target surrounding muscles safely to aid recovery.
  • Combine with Other Treatments: Massage should be part of a broader treatment plan. Professionals can integrate it with exercises and other therapies for comprehensive care.


  • Avoid Direct Pressure on Pain Points: Massaging inflamed areas can worsen symptoms. 
  • Listen to Your Body: If massage causes pain, stop and consult your therapist. They can adjust the technique or suggest alternatives.
  • Don’t Overdo It: Follow your therapist’s advice on frequency and duration to prevent overstimulation of the area.

Exercises To Avoid With Tennis Elbow

While recovery from tennis elbow involves a careful balance of rest and rehabilitation exercises, certain movements can exacerbate the condition and should be avoided:

  • Weight Lifting: Exercises that involve curling the wrists during weight lifting, such as bicep curls with a barbell or dumbbell wrist curls, can put additional strain on the tendons.
  • Racket Sports: Playing racket sports without proper technique or equipment adjustment can continue to aggravate tennis elbow. This includes forceful forearm movements found in tennis or squash.
  • Repetitive Hand Use: Activities requiring tight grips or repetitive hand movements, like using screwdrivers or gardening tools, can worsen symptoms.
  • Push-ups and Bench Presses: These exercises apply direct pressure on the elbow and forearm muscles, potentially increasing pain if not performed with a modification or proper guidance.

Natural Remedies for Tennis Elbow

Natural remedies can complement physiotherapy treatments for tennis elbow, offering pain relief and accelerating the recovery process. Here are some effective natural strategies:

  • Ice Therapy: Applying ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Rest and Elevation: Giving your arm adequate rest and keeping it elevated can help decrease swelling and relieve discomfort.
  • Compression: Wearing a compression bandage or brace around the forearm can provide support, reducing strain on the elbow during daily activities.

While these natural remedies can provide relief, they should be used in conjunction with, rather than as a substitute for, professional physiotherapy treatments.

Duration of Physiotherapy for Tennis Elbow

The duration of physiotherapy required for tennis elbow recovery can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s response to treatment. Typically, a comprehensive physiotherapy program may include:

  • Initial Intensive Phase: A few weeks of regular physiotherapy sessions focused on pain management, inflammation reduction, and beginning gentle strengthening exercises.
  • Progressive Strengthening Phase: Following the initial phase, you may continue with physiotherapy for an additional period, progressively increasing the intensity of exercises to rebuild strength and flexibility. The duration of this period will vary, depending on how your condition responds to treatment.
  • Maintenance and Prevention: After significant improvement, occasional sessions may be recommended to ensure long-term health and prevent recurrence.

It’s important to remember that recovery times can vary, and following your physiotherapist’s personalized advice is crucial for the best outcome.

Your Path to Enhanced Mobility Begins Here

Recovering from tennis elbow can be a challenging journey, but you don’t have to face it alone. At Full Function Rehab & Wellness in Woodbridge, we offer physiotherapy treatments tailored to your unique needs and recovery goals. Our experienced therapists are committed to providing the highest quality care, from initial assessment to full recovery. Contact us today to schedule your appointment. Together, we’ll work towards restoring your strength, flexibility, and most importantly, your quality of life!

Similar Posts