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Tennis Elbow Hand Therapy

“Working with a knowledgeable hand therapist can make the difference between success and failure in complex hand surgical cases. The therapist extends the continuum of our care, as well as functioning as coach and trainer for our patients.”

Marybeth Ezaki, MD, Past President, American Society for Surgery of the Hand

In Phoenix Rehab, our senior hand therapists are experienced licensed and dedicated therapists (physiotherapists and/or occupational therapists) who specialized ONLY in the rehabilitation, treatment and management of painful fingers, hands, wrists, forearm & elbow conditions, because of interest, passion and expertise.

Tennis elbow, also known as

  • lateral epicondylosis
  • lateral tendinosis or
  • lateral epicondylitis

refers to a painful elbow condition that involves tendons located around the outside of the elbow.

These tendons, which anchor muscle to bone, work to extend the wrist or fingers.

Over time and use causes these tendons to wear out and degenerate, weakening the attachment site and placing a strain on the muscles.

What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

Patients typically complain of pain around their elbow, usually on the bony point just above the outside of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle.

The area may be tender to touch.

Patients may report weakness and an inability to perform their normal activities of daily living, such as

  • lifting a cup of coffee
  • wearing/undoing a bra
  • pulling a zip
  • opening a canned drink
  • etc

What causes tennis elbow?

Many patients diagnosed with tennis elbow have never played tennis at all!

Any activity, such as gripping or repeated grasping, can strain the tendon attachment to the lateral epicondyle.

The most common age group is between 30-60 years old, although it can occur in younger and older patients.

What is the treatment for tennis elbow?

Conservative (nonsurgical) treatment through a physician can include

  • anti-inflammatory medications and
  • steroid injections into the painful area

A physician can also provide a referral to our senior hand therapist (note that you do not need a referral form to see our senior physiotherapists or senior hand therapists - you can just contact us and make an appointment).

Tennis elbow release surgery is often only considered if the pain is severe, and/or symptoms have been present for six months or longer.

What can a hand therapist do for me?

Orthosis for tennis elbow to help rest the affected area

Our senior hand therapist will provide conservative (non-invasive, no injections) management for the treatment of tennis elbow, with the goal to return the patient back to normal work, home and sports activities.

We can help identify what activities might aggravate symptoms, and discuss activity modifications.

A custom-fabricated brace or orthosis for the wrist might be recommended to rest the area. Various treatments can be utilized, such as

Our senior hand therapist will often prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises. Following any surgery for tennis elbow, therapy is important to regain motion and strength.