Tennis Elbow in Women: Causes and Symptoms


Tennis elbow is the swelling of tendons that bend the wrist backward away from the palm. It is also called as lateral epicondylitis. A tendon is a tough cord of connective tissue that connects muscles to bones. The tendon most commonly involved is the exterior carpi radialis brevis. It is a common injury that will usually heal with minor treatment but by giving proper time and rest to it.

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tennis elbow

In this article:

Causes of Tennis Elbow in Women
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow in Women
Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow in Women
Risk Factors of Tennis Elbow in Women
Treatment for Tennis Elbow in Women
Prevention of Tennis Elbow in Women
Exercises for Tennis Elbow

All You Need to Know about Tennis Elbow in Women


Causes of Tennis Elbow in Women

It is a classic repetitive stress injury caused by overuse. As the name suggests it is caused by the force of the tennis racquet hitting balls in the backhand position. The forearm muscles which attach to the outside of the elbow may become sore from excessive strain on them. When making a backhand stroke in tennis, the tendons that roll over the end of the elbow can become damaged and cause pain. The following are the causes of tennis elbow –

  • Improper backhand stroke
  • Weak shoulder and wrist muscles
  • Using a tennis racquet that is too tightly strung or too short
  • Other racquet sports like racquetball or squash
  • Hitting the ball off center on the racquet or hitting heavy, wet balls

However, many women who suffer from tennis elbow do not play tennis. The problem can be caused by any repetitive movement. The other causes are –

  • Painting with a brush or roller
  • Working a chainsaw
  • Frequently use other hand tools on a regular basis
  • Using repeated hand motions in various types of work such as butchers, musicians, dentists and carpenters

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Symptoms of Tennis Elbow in Women

At first, there can be pain, burning or an ache along the outside of the forearm and elbow. With time, the pain will get worse. If the activity is continued that caused the condition, the pain may spread down the wrist, even at rest. Pain may also persist when placing the arm and hand palm down on a table and then trying to raise the hand against resistance. The pain will also be there when trying to lift and grip small objects. A weak grip is also a symptom of tennis elbow.

The symptoms of tennis elbow may look like other medical problems so always talk to the doctor for a proper diagnosis.


Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow in Women

The doctor usually diagnoses the tennis elbow with a physical examination. There are certain tests also such as –

  • An X-ray to look at the bones of the elbow to see if there is arthritis in the elbow
  • MRI can show the tendons and the amount of damage
  • Electomyography (EMG) of the elbow may show if there is any nerve problems that may be causing the pain

Risk Factors of Tennis Elbow in Women

Factors that increase the risk are –

  • Age – it affects all ages but most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.
  • Occupation – jobs that involve repetitive motions of the wrist and arm.
  • Certain sports – participating in racquet sports increases risk of tennis elbow.

Treatment for Tennis Elbow in Women

It is better to avoid the movement that caused the injury in the first place. Treatment includes –

  • Rest and stopping the activity that causes the symptoms
  • Ice packs to reduce inflammation
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin

If these treatments don’t work, the doctor may talk about –

  • Bracing the area to keep it still for a few weeks or use of a special brace with activities
  • Steroid injections to help reduce swelling and pain
  • A special type of ultrasound that can help break up scar tissue, increase blood flow and promote healing
  • Surgery is rarely necessary

Prevention of Tennis Elbow in Women

The key point to prevent is to avoid overuse. Stop the activity if there is any pain during doing.

  • Keep the arms flexible and strong
  • Stretch up the arm before any sport or activity
  • Ice the elbow before exercise
  • Stay away from repetitive movements
  • Warm up before exercising or using the arms for sports or other repetitive movements
  • While playing a racquet sport make sure the equipment is right and proper

Exercises for Tennis Elbow

The following are the exercises that can help rehabilitate tennis elbow-

  • Wrist turn – bend the elbow at a right angle and extend the hand outwards, palm facing up. Twist the wrist around gradually until the palm is facing down and hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat it nine more times. Do this for two more sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Wrist lift, palm up – grip a light weight such as a small dumbbell and bend the elbow at a right angle. Extend the hand outwards and palm facing up. Bend the wrist up towards the body then hold this position for 5 seconds and release slowly. Repeat nine more times and do two more sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Elbow bend – stand straight and lower the arm to one side. Slowly bend the arm upwards until the hand touched the shoulder. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat nine more times.
  • Wrist extensor stretch – raise the arm straight out in front of the body and with the palm facing down, slowly bend the wrist downwards. Using the other hand, gently pull the stretching hand back towards the body hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and straighten the wrist again. Repeat this twice and do two more sets of 3 repetitions.



Tennis is elbow is basically caused due to repetitive movements and tennis sport. If prevented properly it will reduce the pain. Treatment can be done easily and also exercises will help.


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