Healthy Living

Tennis Elbow and Arthritis

Tennis Elbow and Arthritis

How does tennis elbow relate to arthritis?

There are various similarities and differences that connect these two diseases. In order to fully understand the relationship between tennis elbow and arthritis, the causes and symptoms of each needs to be examined.

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is a medical condition that causes pain within the elbow. This pain is specifically felt at the tendons that connect the extensor muscles to the lateral epicondyle. The tendons become inflamed and you experience discomfort around the elbow as a result.

The condition usually lasts up to two weeks before it subsides. However there are situations where the symptoms persist for prolonged periods of time, pressing the need for medical attention.

arthritis facts


  • Pain when gripping or holding something
  • Tenderness in the elbow
  • Resistance to finger or wrist extension


Tennis elbow is usually diagnosed simply through the description of what the patient is feeling or experiencing. Physical examination by the doctor can also be done.


Treatment for tennis elbow primarily involves administering drugs or shots. Physical therapy can also be used together with treatment to improve the results of the treatment.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a medical condition that affects the joints of the body. It can therefore affect the elbow. Arthritis also causes some symptoms similar to those of the tennis elbow, which may include pain in the affected area and tenderness.

Arthritis is however, a more serious condition. It is associated with more serious symptoms like swelling, stiffness and inability to move the joint.


Elbow arthritis is mainly caused by rheumatoid arthritis. This disease involves swelling of the joint's lining, hence narrowing the joint space. The bones and soft tissues are destroyed, and it sometimes spreads to other joints such as the wrists.

Arthritis can also result from a medical condition known as osteoarthritis. This disease destroys cartilage which allows for smooth movement of the bones. The bones begin to rub against each other, degrading themselves in the process.

Arthritis can also be brought about by an injury or trauma to the elbow. The cartilage becomes damaged and arthritis develops as a result.


  • Stiffness
  • Instability of the joint
  • Pain in the elbow
  • Swelling
  • Locking of the elbow joints

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

During a diagnosis for arthritis, the doctor will do a physical examination of the elbow to check for swelling or tenderness and your reactions as you move it. X-rays can also be taken to determine the level of damage to the elbow.

Treatment options

The non-surgical treatment methods may include; physical therapy, reducing activities that may cause overuse of the joint and pain management using drugs. Surgery can also be used sometimes to correct the condition.

Can arthritis cause tennis elbow?

Arthritis cannot cause tennis elbow. The opposite is also true in that tennis elbow, better known called lateral epicondyle, cannot result in arthritis. Each condition occurs and develops on its own.

Lateral epicondyle is caused by overuse of the arm while arthritis develops due to an injury or swelling of the joint linings. The two conditions each have their own causes and related symptoms, some of which are more severe than others.