How Long Does Tennis Elbow Take to Heal? Expert Insights and Recovery Timeframes

Have you ever played tennis or any other racquet sport and felt a sharp pain in your elbow? If so, you might have tennis elbow. It’s a common injury that affects many athletes and can sideline them for months. But just how long does tennis elbow take to heal?

Well, the answer to that question isn’t so clear-cut. The healing time can vary widely depending on the severity of the injury and the treatment methods used. Some people might bounce back in a couple of weeks, while others might take several months before they’re fully healed.

One thing that’s for sure is that tennis elbow can be a frustrating and painful injury. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, it can be tough to deal with the limitations that come with the injury. So, if you’re dealing with tennis elbow, it’s important to educate yourself on the healing process and come up with a game plan to get yourself back on the court as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in your elbow. It’s a type of overuse injury that causes pain and tenderness around the outer side of the elbow joint. The symptoms of tennis elbow can range from mild to severe and can last for several months or even years if left untreated. Here are some of the most common symptoms of tennis elbow:

  • Pain on the outer side of the elbow
  • Tenderness around the elbow joint
  • Weakness in the arm and wrist
  • Stiffness in the elbow joint
  • Painful grip when holding objects
  • Difficulty lifting or carrying objects
  • Pain that worsens with repetitive movements, such as gripping or twisting

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor or physical therapist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Ignoring the symptoms of tennis elbow can lead to worsening pain and even permanent damage to the affected tendons.

Causes of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that results in pain and inflammation in the outer part of the elbow. The condition is caused by overuse of the forearm and elbow muscles, leading to tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the elbow. These tears can cause pain, weakness, and inflammation in the elbow joint.

  • Repetitive Motion: Repeatedly using the same forearm and wrist muscles to perform a specific motion can strain the tendons in the elbow, leading to tennis elbow. Movements that involve twisting or gripping, such as tennis, golf, knitting, carpentry, or plumbing can cause the condition.
  • Age: As we age, our tendons become less flexible, weaker, and more susceptible to injury. Tennis elbow is more common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50, but it can occur in people of all ages and fitness levels.
  • Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle can also increase the risk of developing tennis elbow. When we do not use our forearm and wrist muscles frequently, they become weak and prone to injury, making us more susceptible to tennis elbow.

In addition to the above causes, other factors that can contribute to developing tennis elbow include poor posture, improper technique, inadequate warm-up or cool-down, and using equipment that is too heavy or ill-fitted for the activity.

If you suspect that you have tennis elbow or are experiencing any symptoms associated with the condition, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and help you recover as quickly and safely as possible.

Cause Explanation
Overuse of Forearm Muscles Repeated use of tendons and muscles can lead to weakened tendons that are susceptible to injury.
Sedentary Lifestyle Inactivity and lack of exercise can lead to weakened muscles and affected tendons.
Poor Equipment or Technique Using tools and equipment that are too heavy, uncomfortable, or ill-fitted can strain the tendons and muscles in the elbow.

Once the cause of the tennis elbow is identified, you can take measures to prevent further damage and promote healing. With proper self-care, treatment, and rehabilitation, it can take 6-12 months for the tendons to fully heal, depending on the severity of the injury.

Exercises to Help Heal Tennis Elbow

One effective way to treat tennis elbow is through specific exercises that target the affected area. These exercises help to recover the strength and flexibility of the forearm muscles, allowing for proper healing. Here are some helpful exercises:

  • Wrist Extension Stretch: Start with your arm straight and your palm facing down. Use your other hand to pull the thumb towards your wrist, holding for 15-30 seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
  • Reverse Wrist Curls: Use a light weight, starting with 1 or 2 pounds. Sit with your forearm resting on a table, palm facing down. Slowly lift the weight with your wrist, then lower it back down. Repeat 10-15 times and switch to the other arm.
  • Wrist Flexor Stretch: Start with your arm straight and your palm facing up. Use your other hand to gently press your fingers down, holding for 15-30 seconds. Repeat with the other arm.

Performing these exercises regularly can help speed up the healing process of tennis elbow. However, it’s important to start with lighter weights and gradually increase as the strength and flexibility of your forearm improves.

Another helpful exercise for tennis elbow is Eccentric Resistance Training. This involves slowly lowering a weight with the affected arm while the other arm helps to lift it. A physical therapist or sports medicine professional can guide you in performing this exercise safely and effectively.

Exercise Number of Sets Number of Repetitions Frequency
Wrist Extension Stretch 3 10-15 Once a Day
Reverse Wrist Curls 3 10-15 Twice a Week
Wrist Flexor Stretch 3 10-15 Once a Day

Remember to always listen to your body and stop any exercise that causes pain or discomfort. Consistency and patience are key to fully recovering from tennis elbow.

Alternative Therapies for Tennis Elbow

Along with traditional medical treatments, alternative therapies can help alleviate pain and promote healing for tennis elbow sufferers. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese practice involves inserting thin needles into specific points in the body. Acupuncture can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with tennis elbow.
  • Massage therapy: A qualified massage therapist can use techniques to ease muscle tension and promote blood flow to the affected area. This can help reduce pain and speed up healing.
  • Herbal remedies: Certain herbs, such as turmeric and ginger, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease pain and swelling associated with tennis elbow. Always consult with a healthcare professional before trying any herbal remedies.

In addition to these alternative therapies, some people find relief through lifestyle changes. For example, modifying your exercise routine to avoid activities that exacerbate your tennis elbow can help reduce pain and encourage healing.

It’s important to note that while alternative therapies can be helpful, they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. Always consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new treatments for tennis elbow.

Preventing Tennis Elbow from Recurring

Tennis elbow can be a frustrating and painful condition that can take weeks, if not months, to heal. However, even after the pain subsides and the injury seems to have healed, it is important to take precautions to prevent the condition from recurring. Here are some tips to help you avoid another bout of tennis elbow:

  • Strengthen the muscles around the affected area: One of the best ways to prevent tennis elbow from coming back is to strengthen the muscles in your forearms, wrists, and hands. This can be done through targeted exercises or by using hand grip strengtheners.
  • Use proper form and equipment: Another key to preventing tennis elbow is to make sure you are using the proper form and equipment when playing sports or engaging in other physical activities. For example, using a racket with a properly sized grip that is strung at the appropriate tension, or using a computer mouse that fits your hand comfortably, can help alleviate strain on your forearm muscles.
  • Stretch regularly: Stretching your forearm muscles regularly can also help prevent tennis elbow from recurring. This can be done through simple exercises like wrist extensions and flexions.

While taking these preventative measures can significantly decrease your chances of experiencing a repeat bout of tennis elbow, it is important to note that there is no foolproof way to completely eliminate the risk. Sometimes, even the most careful and diligent athletes still experience setbacks. The best approach is to listen to your body and give yourself sufficient rest and recovery time if you feel any signs of pain or discomfort. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so taking steps to protect your body from injury now can save you from significant pain and discomfort in the long run.


Source Link
Mayo Clinic
Orthopedic Associates


Medical Treatment for Tennis Elbow

While several treatments exist for tennis elbow, medical treatment is often necessary for individuals with severe symptoms that interfere with daily activities.

  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. NSAIDs are typically recommended for mild cases of tennis elbow.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: For more severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be given directly into the affected area to reduce inflammation and pain. However, overuse of these injections can lead to weakening of the tendon, so they are typically reserved for short-term treatment.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help individuals with tennis elbow regain strength and flexibility in the affected arm. A physical therapist may use techniques such as massage, stretching exercises, and ultrasound therapy.

In addition to these treatments, doctors may also recommend rest, ice, and braces or splints to help alleviate symptoms. Surgery is rarely necessary for tennis elbow, but may be an option for individuals with severe, long-term symptoms that do not respond to other treatments.

Treatment Pros Cons
NSAIDs Effective for mild cases; Provides quick pain relief May cause stomach irritation and bleeding; Can mask underlying injuries
Corticosteroid Injections Provides short-term relief; Can be effective for severe cases May weaken tendon over time; Risk of infection; Potential for side effects such as weight gain and mood changes
Physical Therapy Can help regain strength and flexibility; May prevent future injury May take longer to see results; Can be costly or time-consuming

In general, the best course of action for treating tennis elbow will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause of the injury. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

How Age Affects Recovery Time for Tennis Elbow

While tennis elbow can affect individuals of all ages, the recovery time may vary based on the person’s age. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Younger individuals tend to have a quicker recovery time because their bodies are better equipped to heal quickly.
  • Individuals in their 40s and 50s may have a longer recovery time due to the natural aging process and decreased circulation to the tendons.
  • Older individuals may have the longest recovery time due to the decreased ability of the body to heal efficiently.

However, it is important to note that everyone’s recovery time is unique and may vary based on their individual circumstances, such as the severity of the injury and their overall health.

It is also important to note that age does not necessarily mean that an individual cannot fully recover from tennis elbow. In fact, proper treatment and rehabilitation can help individuals of all ages to recover from tennis elbow and return to their normal activities.


Age Group Average Recovery Time
Younger Individuals 4-6 weeks
Individuals in their 40s and 50s 6-12 weeks
Older Individuals 3-6 months

Ultimately, recovery time for tennis elbow is unique to each individual and may be impacted by a variety of factors, including age. However, proper treatment and rehabilitation can help promote healing and recovery, regardless of age.

FAQs: How long does tennis elbow take to heal?

Q1: How long does it take for tennis elbow to heal?
The healing time varies from person to person and depends on the severity of the injury. However, it usually takes several weeks to a few months for the condition to improve.

Q2: Can tennis elbow heal on its own?
Tennis elbow can heal on its own if you rest the affected arm and avoid activities that cause pain. However, it is recommended to seek medical attention to ensure proper treatment and to avoid any further complications.

Q3: What are the treatments for tennis elbow?
Treatment options for tennis elbow include rest, ice packs, physical therapy, medication, and in severe cases, surgery. Consult with a medical professional for the appropriate treatment options for your condition.

Q4: Can I still play tennis while recovering from tennis elbow?
It is recommended that you avoid activities that cause pain or strain the affected arm during the recovery process. Consult with a medical professional for a personalized recovery plan.

Q5: How can I prevent tennis elbow from occurring?
To prevent tennis elbow, it is recommended to perform proper stretching and warm-up exercises, use equipment that fits properly and is suited for your skill level, and avoid repetitive motions that cause strain on the arms and elbows.

Q6: Can tennis elbow reoccur after it has healed?
Yes, there is a possibility of tennis elbow reoccurring after it has healed. Maintaining proper stretching and strengthening exercises and avoiding activities that cause pain can minimize the chance of the injury reoccurring.

Closing Thoughts: Thanks for Reading

We hope these FAQs have helped you better understand how long tennis elbow can take to heal. If you suspect that you may have tennis elbow or are experiencing arm pain, we recommend seeking medical attention. Remember to rest and care for your body properly during the recovery process. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you back here soon!