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2 Ways to Treat Tennis Elbow at Home

June 06, 2024

If you have pain in your elbow, you might be suffering from tennis elbow — even if you don’t play any tennis.

“Whether you’re playing racquet sports or golf, helping a friend move some furniture, gardening, or even performing repetitive work activities, it can all lead to tennis elbow,” says Christopher Michael McCarthy, MD, a hand surgeon with Hartford HealthCare’s Bone & Joint Institute.

Here’s what you need to know about this common ailment and how to treat it.

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Tennis elbow is common and usually temporary.

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a degenerative tissue problem on the outside of the elbow.

“Even though it has -itis in the name, which refers to inflammation, it’s more like diseased tissue that tends to be painful,” explains Dr. McCarthy.

If you have tennis elbow, you might experience:

  • Progressive outside elbow pain.
  • Weakness or fatigue with gripping/grasping, especially in a palm-down position.

“While we don’t have known lifestyle changes that can prevent tennis elbow, it’s a very common issue,” says Dr. McCarthy. “It’s highly likely to be only temporary and usually gets better over time.”

> Related: What Different Types of Shoulder Pain Could Mean

2 ways to treat tennis elbow at home

“Even though we call it tendonitis, it’s not a traditional inflammatory issue that needs rest,” explains Dr. McCarthy.

Instead, he says home stretching and massage for a couple months may help slowly reduce symptoms.


Here’s how to stretch it.

  • Make your elbow straight.
  • Take your other hand and flex (bend down) your injured wrist.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.

“The purpose of this stretching is to create controlled trauma to the area so that it can heal with more normalized tissue in the long run,” explains Dr. McCarthy.


And here’s how to massage it.

  • Focus on the painful area/point on the outside of your elbow.
  • Apply direct massage to this area.
  • Repeat as needed.

“If this is too painful, try an ice cube,” suggests Dr. McCarthy. “It can help numb the area to get a more effective massage.”

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Elbow strap braces can help.

You may have seen elbow straps that promise to relieve tennis elbow. And it turns out that these braces, which use counter force, can actually be helpful.

“You should wear these elbow strap braces a couple of finger breadths closer to the wrist from the actual worst point of pain on the outside elbow,” says Dr. McCarthy.

These braces may help offload the worn-down tissues so they can heal.

When to see a doctor

If home remedies don’t help, see your doctor.

“If tennis elbow symptoms aren’t improving with stretching or massage, get a professional evaluation with an orthopedic hand surgeon,” says Dr. McCarthy.

Even if nonoperative treatments don’t work, there’s another solution.

“Surgery can clean up the diseased tissue and give your body a fresh, healthy trauma to heal from,” explains Dr. McCarthy. “If tennis elbow has been ongoing, you can finally feel better.”