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Children's Health

Tennis Elbow

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is a repetitive stress injury of the elbow that happens when the muscles and tendons in the elbow area are torn or damaged.

What causes tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is usually caused by repetitive activities that need you to extend your wrist, such as hitting backhand in tennis or playing other racquet sports. The risk increases as your child ages and plays harder or more competitive games.

What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

The following are the most common symptoms of tennis elbow. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain, especially over the outside area of the elbow

  • Pain with wrist movement

The symptoms of tennis elbow may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your child's healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Treatment for tennis elbow

Specific treatment for tennis elbow will be discussed with you by your child's healthcare provider based on the following:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the injury

  • Child's tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Rest the area

  • Ice packs to the area

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises

  • Wearing an elbow strap called a counterforce brace. It must be worn properly or it can worsen the condition. 

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen

Prevention of tennis elbow

Some tips for preventing injury include the following:

  • Perform warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after tennis play that includes stretching the muscles in the arm.

  • Use appropriately-sized tennis equipment. Racquet handles and heads that are too big or too small or strings that are too tight or too loose can put more stress on the elbow.

  • Evaluate poor tennis technique that may be contributing to the problem. Learn new ways to play that avoid repeated stress on the joints.

Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2016
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