Tennis elbow is a common term for any pain between the elbow and wrist. The muscles involved are the extensor carpi radialis brevis and/or extensor carpi radialis longus. These originate on the lateral epicondyle and supracondylar ridge of the humerus (outside of elbow) to the 2nd and 3rd metacarpal of the hand (the top of your hand). Their main role is to extend the wrist so overuse/repetitive strain of these actions often cause injury or tension at the origin of the tendon on the elbow, resulting in pain down the arm. It is common in sports such as in tennis, or in occupations such as a painter or a hairdresser.

A sign that you have tennis elbow is when pain is increased when you resist extension of the wrist with the arm straight, or when you grip small objects.

Tips

If the pain only comes on with these actions, then ceasing the stressful and repetitive action should reduce it. Once the swelling and/or pain reduces, stretching the forearm muscles can be useful by flexing the wrist (preferably after a hot bath or shower). You can then progress onto strengthening the wrist extensor muscles to try and prevent the injury returning. Massage can also assist with the rehabilitation process.

Please note: Golfers elbow is less common but originates on the other side of the elbow, and repetitive actions of flexing the wrist, instead of extending it, will cause pain. The same principles apply with rehabilitation process, but stretching and strengthening the wrist flexor muscles instead.