Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is tennis elbow diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. During the physical examination, you will be asked to move your fingers, wrist and elbow in different ways. Your doctor will also apply pressure to the affected areas to check for pain.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend an X-ray test to further investigate your condition. This may be necessary if:

  • You have a history of inflammatory disease or trauma.
  • Your doctor suspects other causes of your symptoms.

How is tennis elbow treated?

Tennis elbow can resolve on its own with some self-care measures and pain relief medications. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

Non-surgical treatments

  • Pain medication. Your doctor will prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Brace. Your doctor may recommend putting a brace centred over the back of your forearm. This may help to relieve symptoms by resting the muscles and tendons.
  • Injections. Steroid injections may be given if other treatments are not successful.
  • Ultrasonic tenotomy (TENEX). This is a non-surgical procedure that removes the damaged tissue on your tendons. During the procedure, your doctor will insert a special needle into the damaged part of your tendon to liquefy the damaged tissue and suction it out.


If there is no improvement in your condition after 6 – 12 months of non-surgical treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the damaged tendon:

  • Arthroscopy. In this minimally invasive surgery, your surgeon will make a few tiny cuts on the skin over your elbow. Small instruments and a camera will then be inserted to help the surgeon remove the damaged parts of the tendon.
  • Open surgery. In this procedure, your doctor will make a cut above the bone on the side of your elbow, and remove the damaged piece of tendon.


  • Physiotherapy. Physical therapy sessions can help you to stretch and strengthen your forearm and wrist muscles through exercise.
  • Rest. Your doctor may recommend a rest period with no sports or heavy work activities for several weeks.
  • Equipment check. Your therapist may check your equipment (e.g. racquet) for correct fit to prevent symptoms from recurring.

Make an appointment with our orthopaedic surgeons to assess your elbow and start your treatment early.

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