Alleviating Tennis Elbow: A Guide to Supportive Therapies

Alleviating Tennis Elbow: A Guide to Supportive Therapies

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a prevalent condition experienced by both athletes and non-athletes alike. This discomforting ailment arises when the tendons of your elbow become overloaded, typically due to repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. While it’s commonly associated with tennis players, it can affect anyone who frequently uses their arm in similar ways. The good news is, that there’s a range of tennis elbow supportive therapy available that can significantly mitigate pain and speed up recovery. In this guide, we delve into these treatments to provide relief and get you moving comfortably again.

Is Physiotherapy Good For Tennis Elbow?

Is Physiotherapy Good For Tennis Elbow?Yes, physiotherapy is highly beneficial for managing and treating tennis elbow. Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, addresses the root causes of tennis elbow by providing targeted exercises and interventions aimed at strengthening the forearm muscles. By enhancing muscle endurance and proper wrist and arm mechanics, physical therapy can alleviate the stress on the tendon attachments. It can also teach patients the correct techniques and movements to avoid further exacerbating the condition. This makes it an essential aspect of both treatment and prevention.

Moreover, a physiotherapist can offer hands-on techniques. That can help decrease pain and improve the elbow’s range of motion. Patient education, ergonomic advice, and guidance on activity modification are other integral parts of physiotherapy management for tennis elbow. They will ensure individuals can return to their activities safely without recurrent episodes.

What Are Some Tennis Elbow Supportive Therapy?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, results from inflammation of the tendons connecting the forearm muscles to the outer elbow. It’s commonly associated with repetitive motions that stress these tendons. Supportive therapies are pivotal for managing pain, promoting healing, and preventing recurrence. Here are some commonly recommended tennis elbow supportive therapy:

Rest and Activity Modification

One of the primary and most effective interventions for tennis elbow is to simply allow the inflamed tendons time to heal by refraining from the activities that caused or exacerbated the condition. Tennis elbow often results from overuse, repetitive movements, or improper technique. By taking a break and modifying activities, the inflammation can subside, and the tendons get the reprieve they need. During this period, it’s essential to be mindful of daily activities that may strain the forearm muscles and to employ alternate strategies or tools to lessen the load on the affected arm.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy stands as a cornerstone in the management and recovery from tennis elbow. A physiotherapist can design a tailored regimen of exercises that strengthen the forearm muscles, thereby reducing the strain on the tendons. Additionally, they will recommend stretching exercises to enhance flexibility. That can further alleviate tension in the affected tendons. Moreover, a therapist may incorporate manual techniques, such as soft tissue massage or joint mobilization, to ease pain and improve the range of motion. They also educate patients on proper wrist and arm mechanics to prevent recurrent episodes.


For individuals with tennis elbow, a counterforce brace or strap can be invaluable. Positioned just below the elbow, this brace assists in redistributing pressure away from the painful tendon, thereby offering relief during activities. It acts as an external tendon, lessening the force exerted on the affected area. This is particularly useful for those who cannot completely avoid using their forearm, as the brace can prevent further strain and injury.

Cold and Heat Therapy

  • Cold Packs: Immediately after the onset of pain or following activities that aggravate the elbow, applying cold packs can be extremely beneficial. Cold therapy can diminish inflammation, reduce swelling, and provide a numbing effect that relieves pain. It’s typically recommended to apply a cold pack wrapped in a thin cloth to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at intervals.
  • Heat Packs: As the acute phase of the injury subsides, heat therapy becomes more appropriate. It aids in relaxing and loosening tissues and enhancing blood flow, which can accelerate the healing process. Warm towels, hot water bottles, or commercial heat packs can be applied for 15-20 minutes, ensuring it’s not too hot to avoid burns.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)Oral NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, are frequently prescribed or recommended for tennis elbow. They play a dual role by alleviating pain and reducing inflammation at the injury site. However, long-term use of NSAIDs can come with side effects like gastrointestinal issues, so it’s essential to use them as directed and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Topical Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter creams, gels, and patches containing ingredients like menthol, capsaicin, or NSAIDs can be directly applied to the area of pain. These topicals can provide targeted relief by either numbing the region, increasing blood flow, or reducing inflammation. They offer the advantage of local treatment without the systemic side effects that sometimes come with oral medications. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional if unsure.

Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound therapy utilizes high-frequency sound waves to generate heat deep within tissues, targeting muscles, tendons, and other soft structures. When applied to the affected region of tennis elbow, the gentle heat can enhance blood circulation, promoting faster healing of the inflamed tendons. Additionally, it aids in relaxing tightened muscles and reducing pain. The treatment is usually administered by a physical therapist and can be combined with other therapies for comprehensive relief.

Laser Therapy

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is an emerging therapeutic option for tennis elbow. It employs specific wavelengths of light to trigger a biological response in the damaged cells, promoting regeneration and healing. The treatment can reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and stimulate collagen production – a vital component of tendons. The non-invasive nature of LLLT, coupled with its lack of side effects, makes it an attractive option for many patients, although its efficacy might vary.

Steroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are potent anti-inflammatory agents that can provide rapid but temporary relief from severe tennis elbow symptoms. By injecting the medication directly into the painful area, inflammation and pain can be significantly reduced. However, there’s a limit to how many injections one can receive, as repeated use can potentially weaken tendons and make them prone to rupture. Additionally, while immediate relief might be experienced, long-term benefits are still debated among medical professionals.

Dry Needling or Acupuncture

Both these therapies involve inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. In dry needling, the needles target muscular trigger points or knots to release tension and alleviate pain. This can be particularly useful if muscle tightness is exacerbating tennis elbow symptoms. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is a traditional Chinese therapy that aims to balance the body’s energy or ‘qi.’ While the mechanisms differ, many patients with tennis elbow have reported pain relief from both treatments, though individual experiences can vary.

It’s essential to understand that while many of these therapies can provide relief, the best outcomes are often achieved through a combination of treatments tailored to the individual’s specific needs. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

Should You Massage Tennis Elbow?

Should You Massage Tennis Elbow?Massage can be beneficial for tennis elbow, but it’s essential to approach it with care. When performed correctly, massage can aid in improving circulation to the affected area, breaking down scar tissue, and facilitating the healing process. Soft tissue mobilization is a type of massage technique. It can target and relieve muscle tightness in the forearm and reduce strain on the affected tendons. Increased blood flow from the massage can help deliver essential nutrients necessary for tissue repair, thus aiding in faster recovery.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the massage is gentle and not overly aggressive. Especially during the acute phase of the condition when the pain and inflammation are at their peak. Aggressive massage can exacerbate symptoms and potentially prolong recovery. Ideally, massage for tennis elbow should be performed by a trained therapist who understands the condition and can tailor the technique to the individual’s needs.

Is Tennis Elbow Fully Curable?

Tennis elbow is typically a self-limiting condition, meaning that with appropriate care and management, it often resolves on its own. The majority of people with tennis elbow experience complete recovery, especially when they adhere to treatment recommendations. The body’s natural healing processes, combined with therapeutic interventions, can effectively repair the damaged tendons and restore their function, eliminating the symptoms of pain and discomfort.

However, it’s essential to note that while many individuals achieve full recovery with tennis elbow supportive therapy, the timeline can vary considerably, with some cases resolving in a few weeks and others taking several months or even longer. Chronic or recurring episodes can occur. Especially if the causative factors (like repetitive strain or improper techniques) persist or are not addressed. It’s vital to recognize and modify any activities or behaviors that contributed to the condition initially to prevent recurrence.


Tennis elbow, while a common ailment often associated with repetitive strain, can be effectively managed and often fully resolved with the right interventions and common tennis elbow supportive therapy. From rest and physical therapy to advanced treatments like PRP injections, a myriad of options exists to aid recovery. Essential to this healing journey is understanding the condition, early intervention, and adopting preventive measures.

By combining professional medical guidance with individualized care, those affected can confidently navigate their path to recovery and regain pain-free function in their daily lives. Physical Therapy helps patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Back, Shoulder, Knee, Neck, Elbow, Hip, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.