One day a man complained to his friend, “My elbow really hurts, I am going to see a doctor.”

His friend said, “Why don’t you try the new computer system in the hospital. It’s proven to be able to diagnose anything quicker and cheaper than any doctor. It’s incredible! You simply insert a sample of your urine and the system diagnoses your problem and then advise you what to do about it.”

The injured fella had nothing to lose, so he filled a jar with his urine sample and went to the hospital. Finding the computer system he deposited the sample and awaited the computer systems diagnosis.

The system started making some noise and various lights started to flash and beep. After a short pause out popped a small slip of paper.

You have tennis elbow. Refrain from painful movements immediately. Apply ICE and HEAT three times per day. Visit a sports physiotherapist if pain persists after two to three weeks.

The man went home quite impressed with this, the latest advancement in medical technology. Later that evening he began to wonder how the system worked, and decided that he would test the new computers capabilities. He mixed together some tap water, a stool sample from his dog, and urine samples from his wife and daughter and then masturbated into the concoction for added complexity.

He went back to the hospital’s computer system and poured in his new sample.

The system made the usual noises and after a short pause printed out the message:

Your tap water is too hard. Get a water softener. Your dog has worms. Get him vitamins. Your daughter is using cocaine. Put her in a rehabilitation clinic. Your wife is pregnant with twin girls. They aren’t yours. Get a lawyer. And if you don’t stop jerking off, your tennis elbow will NEVER get better!

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a common injury that golfers, tennis players and other racquet sports players commonly experience. Physically it is tiny, microscopic tears in the tendon that causes inflammation and pain in the tendon and surrounding tissues.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Pain is felt in a small area over the elbow joint. The pain may spread down into the forearm with use. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is inflammation of the fibrous tissue (tendon) that connects muscle to bone in the elbow. In golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), another form of tendonitis, the tendons on the inside of the elbow are affected. Gripping and using the arm in the same motion makes the pain even worse. The inflamed tendons may be strained or have tiny tears caused by overusing the muscles that control the wrist and fingers.

Expected Duration

The pain of tennis elbow generally subsides within a few weeks, although it sometimes can last for months. Continuing to use the injured muscles can prevent healing and may result in a long-lasting (chronic) condition. Take the advice of the computer in the joke and give yourself some time off from your sport, perhaps do a bit of cross training. It really is the best solution.

How is the diagnosis made?

The doctor will listen to the description of events and examine the elbow. X-rays will also be taken to determine whether there is a piece of bone involved. Usually no further investigation is needed although sometimes, in difficult cases, ultrasound or MRI may be helpful.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, especially whether your elbow or forearm hurts when you move your wrist. Your doctor also will ask about any sports or physical activities that may have triggered your symptoms.

During a physical examination, your doctor will check for pain, tenderness and swelling in the elbow, forearm and wrist on the affected side. If your symptoms are not characteristic of tennis elbow or if you have an unusual history of injury, your doctor may order X-rays or other tests to check for other possible problems. However, no tests are required to make the diagnosis.

What is the typical treatment?

The most important treatment for tennis elbow is rest. The condition will not improve if the activity that causes it continues. It’s just that simple. Ice packs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn and others), may provide some relief from pain. A number of bands and devices are also available to place round the forearm. These devices attempt to “offload” the insertion of the extensor muscles into the lateral epicondyle but they are not a cure and can only provide short-term relief if any.

Firstly it is important to determine the cause of the condition so that recurrence may be avoided. If it is sports related, the equipment or grip may be altered. Sometimes the handle is too small or too big for the hand. It could also be an unconventional swing brought on by changes in muscle mechanics (your swing or stroke). In chronic situations an injection of local anaesthetic and steroid into the most tender spot (the lateral or medial epicondylitis may be prescribed. This gives instant relief and allows therapy to begin. When the area is on the mend some exercises to improve wrist flexibility and increase the wrist flexor and extensor muscle strength are active solutions to help you on the mend.

When To Call A Professional

Call your doctor if your ability to move your wrist or elbow motion has not improved within a week or two. Call even sooner if there is swelling or if the pain began after a significant injury.


With proper treatment, symptoms of tennis elbow usually improve within three weeks. However, in some patients, symptoms persist for several months. If tennis elbow is not properly treated, it can become a chronic condition with frequent flare-ups. So as difficult as it is, you’re going to need to take some time off!