Have you DONE something different to usual ie digging/DIY and noticed suddenly your elbow is hurting when you try and do something which involves lifting or gripping, or is it wakening you in the night when you have turned onto that side? 

Is the PAIN on the outside of the elbow somewhere near the bony part?

If the answer to the above is YES, then it is likely that you may have developed what is commonly known as tennis elbow- even if you’ve not been near a tennis raquet since you were at school! 

WHY does this occur? It is usually down to normal ageing  changes within the tendon, a bit like “grey hair and wrinkles” on the inside! The changes will have been occurring over a period of time, and then probably aggravated by unusual activity.


WHAT can you do?

  1. avoid aggravating activities/positions
  2. carry things with your palm upward
  3. carry things close to the body
  4. load tendon with specific exercises, but decrease any manual labour/DIY you are doing
  5. pain-free exercises

  Should I REST my arm? If the pain has just developed- an initial course of action can be to “rest” the arm for 6-8 weeks. If it is no better after this time, it is time to exercise and strengthen the tendon.

WHICH exercises are the best?

  1. Full pronation ( ie turning the palm to face down without moving at the shoulder to) with light resistance- perhaps holding a tin or light weight, also pain-free
  2. Can you then add in a straightening of the elbow as you start to turn the palm downwards- in a sort of reaching forwards motion rather than straightening the arm downward 
  3. Aim for 1 minute holds of the contraction, maximum reps 3 once a day

TOP TIPS of what to avoid :

  1. We know from research studies that cortisone injections are generally not recommended. Over a 12 month period, the outcome of people who have had an injection is worse than those who haven’t had an injection, and sometimes the outcome can be worse than those patients who have done NOTHING.
  2. Stretching. Sometimes stretching the arm can worsen the situation due to compressing the already irritated tendon against the bone.

This is meant as a guide only to what could be causing your elbow pain. There are other structures in the arm which can refer pain to this area – the shoulder, neck or some local nerve structures for example.

Often the patients we see in clinic have been putting up with arm pain for quite some time, months creeping towards the year mark, and beyond. 

If this is you, or someone you know, please don’t continue experiencing it, and letting it affect your day-to-day activities, or hobbies.

Physiotherapy works. 

We help lots of people every year with similar issues, we can help you too.

Get in touch.