Why do I have pain in the outside of my elbow?

Tennis elbow


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Tennis elbow is the common name for lateral epicondylitis. Acute tennis elbow occurs due to tears in the muscle as a result of pulling on the outside of the elbow lateral epicondyle. The condition can become chronic if the symptoms last 6 months or longer.




In many cases the symptoms of tennis can resolve with rest from activities that aggravate the pain. Some symptoms you may feel are:

  • Pain on the outside of your elbow when touched
  • Pain when using your arm for activities
  • Weakness in your forearm
  • Pain and and/or stiffness to the muscles on the back of your forearm




The cause of tennis elbow is not exclusively playing tennis, but can occur with overuse of the structures that make up the forearm, most commonly repeated forceful gripping and lifting. In particular lifting and gripping with the arm straight and wrist bent backwards.




The easiest steps you can take to help with the symptoms of tennis elbow is to rest the affected arm. Along with rest you can add applying ice to the  outside of elbow and heat to the muscles of the back of your forearm.


What can you do to make it better?

  • Rest
  • Avoid lifting with your arm out straight
  • Avoid bending your wrist backwards for long periods of time
  • Apply ice to the sore spot on the elbow
  • Apply heat to the muscles in the forearm
  • Stretch the muscles in the forearm
  • Work with your hand therapist to figure out what is causing the condition in the first place and how to modify those activities


If you find that trying these does not remediate the problem you can contact a hand therapist to help you find out what is causing the condition. A hand therapist can show you how to modify the way you perform activities or adapt your environment to help relieve symptoms.