Tennis Elbow is a common cause of elbow pain, especially in athletes. The technical name for Tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. The epicondyles are the bony protuberances at the end of the humorous. There is one protuberance on each side of the humorous, one is on the inside of the elbow (medial), and the other is on the outside of the elbow (lateral). The lateral epicondyle is the origin for one of the main extensor muscles of the wrist. That muscle is the extensor carpi radials brevis. Tennis elbow is caused by overuse injury to this muscle. This overuse causes tearing of the extensor carpi radials brevis and that is what causes the pain associated with the condition.


Tennis elbow is an overuse injure. Repeatedly extending, and supinating the wrist such as when hitting a backhand with a tennis racket cause the extensor carpi radials brevis to stretch and tear. This tearing occurs at the origin of the muscle and this can become inflamed. This inflammation results in a constant and nagging issue that is exacerbated with further use. There are of course other sports and even every day activities that can cause tennis elbow.

Once this condition develops initially it can be hard to make it go away. Since the actions that cause the injury can be fairly common in everyday activities such as using a screwdriver or just opening a door. It can be hard to avoid exacerbating this injury. This is especially true when the injury occurs to the dominate hand.


Tennis elbow often causes a sharp nagging pain at the outside of the elbow. The pain could also include some burning. The area can become inflamed and be warm to the touch depending on the acuity of the injury. Often the area over the outside of the elbow will be painful to the touch. Using the wrist will exacerbate the pain. Any kind of resisted extension with the wrist is likely to cause sharp pain in the elbow. Tauberg Chiropractic & Rehabilitation wants to help subside that pain.


Tennis elbow can be diagnosed by taking your history and doing an in-office examination. Tennis elbow will almost always have a history of overuse such as participating in sports or having an occupation that requires a lot of tool work. Then with that history it is easier to narrow in on the problem. The outside of the elbow will be painful to palpation on examination of the area. Provocative maneuvers such as Cozens test will reproduce the pain. Cozens test is performed by having the patient extend their wrist and then applying pressure downwards on the wrist. Usually this will be enough to diagnose the condition. In some cases MRI may be needed.


Tennis elbow is best treated with conservative rehabilitation. The treatment plan at Tauberg Chiropractic & Rehabilitation in Pittsburgh & Fox Chapel will vary depending on what stage tennis elbow presents in. If the injury is fairly recent and acute in nature PRICE will be the first line of treatment. PRICE stands for protect, rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Following PRICE a rehabilitation program that involves eccentric strengthening exercises, myofascial release, manipulation, and stretching exercises will be developed to treat the injury. Usually this is an effective approach that can help tennis elbow heal and prevent its reoccurrence. In some cases tennis elbow may require further care such as injections.


  • Souza, T. A. (2016). Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.