Tennis Elbow Treatment and Exercises

6 May, 2021

Lateral epicondylitis, also known as “tennis elbow,” is a degenerative disorder that affects many people in Australia. First described in 1873, the name “lawn tennis elbow” was conceived in 1882 to name the condition.

It’s caused by overuse of the wrist extensors, or forearm muscles, which causes the outer part of the elbow to experience pain and inflammation. Despite the name, it isn’t necessarily caused by playing tennis.

Any activity that causes the excessive use of these muscles to extend the back of your hand toward the forearm, like extensive use of a screwdriver, carrying heavy bags or making a fist, can cause tennis elbow.

tennis elbow

Some symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and sensitivity on the outside of the elbow, where the bone can be felt under the skin. That bulge is where the tendons connect to the bone, causing the painful sensation due to inflammation of these tendons.

This pain can be felt in either the upper or lower parts of the arm. The symptoms of tennis elbow could be aggravated by activities that cause these muscles to work hard, like doing heavy lifting, or by gripping objects that have round handles, like hammers or tennis racquets. Even typists or painters could experience tennis elbow due to the nature of their work.

To have it diagnosed will require a complete exam. The doctor will ask you to move and flex your arm and muscles to pinpoint the location of the pain. Like x-ray or MRI, some scans could be used to rule out other problems like arthritis.


Tennis elbow should clear up on its own but could last for six months to 2 years. Having a physiotherapist give you treatment is a great way to relieve tennis elbow, or you can take painkillers regularly.

If, however, you don’t want to consult a physiotherapist or use painkillers on an ongoing basis, here are physical therapy exercises you can do right at home. For more information and training courses, you can visit the Australian Chapter of the American Academy.


Use a Rolled-Up Towel

Sounds ridiculous, right? It’s actually very effective.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Take a rolled-up towel or another type of cloth
  2. Relax your shoulders and hold the towel lengthways in front of you
  3. Grip the rolled-up towel with both hands, and twist in opposite directions like you’re squeezing water from the towel
  4. Repeat 10 times

This exercise is simple but very effective. It’s quick and easy to do and requires nothing more than a rolled-up towel or cloth. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed for this exercise.

Use a Ball or Rolled-Up Sock

The first step here is to wash your socks before doing this exercise. If you don’t want to use socks, you can use a ball as well.

Here’s how this exercise works:

  1. Take the rolled-up sock or ball in your hand
  2. Squeeze the sock or ball
  3. Hold for 10 seconds and release
  4. Repeat 10 times for best results

Using a stress ball works great for this exercise. It really causes the muscles to work!

Wrist Extension and Flex

The extension exercise works the wrist extensors – those muscles that are used to bend your wrist. These muscles are small but are also connected to your elbow and can be subjected to overuse.

To do wrist extensions:

  1. Sit in a relaxed position, with palm facing down
  2. Rest the elbow on your leg, and curl your wrist toward your body
  3. Try to keep your arm straight and only use the wrist
  4. Repeat 10 times for each arm

In conjunction with the extension exercise, there is a workout for the wrist flexors. These are responsible for the opposite of the wrist extensors.

For wrist flexes:

  1. Sit in a relaxed position, with palm facing up
  2. Rest the elbow on your leg, and curl your wrist toward your body
  3. Try to keep your arm straight and only use the wrist
  4. Repeat 10 times on each arm

Another simple exercise is to bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle with your palm facing up. Slowly twist your wrist until your palm is facing down and hold it there for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times for three sets.


Issues with the muscles and tendons that cause tennis elbow can be caused by all kinds of actions.

By doing the aforementioned daily activities, you could treat tennis elbow in the comfort of your home. These exercises are designed to target muscles and improve their strength so your tennis elbow can become a thing of the past.

If you are looking for professional help, GenPhysio provide mobile physiotherapy services in Queensland and Northern NSW. To book or find out more, give us a call on 1300 122 884.

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