The Most Common Tennis Injuries and Treatments

First aid kit

Tennis is an exciting sport that you can learn at any age. It also comes with some incredible health benefits –  to read more about them, just click here!

However, every single sport comes with a risk of injury. Even though tennis is a no-contact sport, it’s still possible to face an injury. But with a good coach, excellent lessons, and a little knowledge, you can make tennis even safer!

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the most common tennis injuries. We’re also going to tell you about the various treatment options for each of them, and how to prevent them from happening in the first place!

We’re going to explore:

Tennis Elbow

Ankle Sprains

Jumper’s Knee


Sprained Wrists

By the way, before you start: reading all of these at once will make tennis sound like a very risky sport. It isn’t! In fact, tennis is one of the safest sports you can play. The point of this list is to help you be informed so on the rare chance that you do get hurt, you’ll know what it might be and how to treat it.

So let’s dive in!

Tennis Elbow

What is it?

Let’s start with the most famous – and possibly infamous – of all tennis injuries. Tennis Elbow is just one of three injuries on our list that gets its name from the sport. That tells us two things about the injury. For one thing, it tells us that it’s one of the more common injuries in the sport. The other thing it tells us is that there’s something about it that’s somehow specific to tennis. It has to do with the motions in the game. For instance, not a lot of hockey players get Tennis Elbow.

So what actually is Tennis Elbow? Well, the medical term for the condition is Lateral Epicondylitis. In simpler language, Tennis Elbow is the result of certain tendons in your arm. If you want to get really specific, the tendon is called extensor carpi radialis brevis. Tendons are connective tissue that connect our muscles to our bones. As you’ll see with a lot of the injuries on this list, tendons are frequently a cause of pain for tennis players. The extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon is one that connects from your elbow to your wrist.

You’re most likely to get Tennis Elbow from swinging your racquet in a backhanded position.

The good news? If you’re a parent and your child is starting tennis, you don’t have to worry too much about Tennis Elbow. It’s far more common in adults.


Often, Tennis Elbow starts as a painful sensation starting on the outside of the elbow and running along the outside of your forearm. Whereas a pulled muscle starts to feel better with time, with Tennis Elbow the pain actually starts to get worse. You’ll feel the pain when playing tennis, and it’s important to stop playing if you do. Continuing to play tennis without treating Tennis Elbow will make the condition more severe.

You may also feel like your grip has gotten weaker. If you have trouble lifting up light objects, that can also be a sign of Tennis Elbow.


If you think you have Tennis Elbow, it’s a really good idea to see a doctor. This isn’t just because they can help you heal from the injury. It’s also because what feels like Tennis Elbow can sometimes be something else – like arthritis in the elbow. Having yourself checked out by a medical professional can give you some peace of mind, and make sure there’s nothing seriously wrong.

A doctor may order some tests, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging, an X-Ray, or an EMG. This will help them diagnose Tennis Elbow, as well as see the extent of the damage in your tendons.

A doctor may suggest several treatment plans.

One helpful treatment is using an ice pack. The cold temperature will help to bring down the swelling in your arm, helping you to heal and reducing your pain. However, it’s very important when you use ice to put it in a damp towel first. This will help protect your skin from the ice. Never leave ice on an injury for more than 15 minutes at a time.

You may also be prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication. This medication works in roughly the same way as the ice pack; bringing down the swelling and helping to ease the discomfort.

You’ll likely be told to take a break from tennis, to allow your body to recover.

If you have a severe case of Tennis Elbow, you may also be given these treatments:

An Ultrasound may be used, which can help fight scar tissue within the tendons and speed up the recovery from Tennis Elbow.

A brace may be worn, to keep your arm from moving so that your injury has a chance to heal.

You may even have a steroid injection. Injecting steroids into your arm has essentially the same function as the anti-inflammatory medication. Cortisone injections will reduce swelling, which will help with pain, blood flow, and the healing process.

In very rare cases, surgery can be used. However, it’s very unlikely that you would ever get such a bad case of Tennis Elbow that you would need surgery. Most tennis players do not suffer from Tennis Elbow, and even those who do don’t need such extreme treatments.


You know what they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

It’s true. There are lots of steps you can take to protect yourself against Tennis Elbow. A knowledgeable tennis instructor may have lots of advice.

Since Tennis Elbow is usually caused by a back handed tennis stroke, one good way to protect yourself against Tennis Elbow is to be easy on yourself when practicing those strokes. This means to start slow. Don’t spend an entire day just focusing on that swing.

Tennis Elbow can also be caused by a lack of strength in your wrist. Asking your tennis instructor for good exercises to strengthen your forearm and wrist can go a long way to preventing Tennis Elbow! Also, doing a thorough warm up before playing can be very beneficial for this and other sports injuries.

And, as always – good form and proper technique help! Pay attention at your tennis lessons when your instructor teaches you the backhanded stroke. Tennis Elbow is one of the most common tennis injuries, but it doesn’t have to be one for you! 

Sprained Ankle

Person sitting on a bench with one sneaker removed.
Photograph of a person sitting on a bench with one sneaker removed. They are grabbing their wrist. Photo by Erwans Socks on Unsplash
What is it?

Of all the sports injuries ever to plague the world of sports, ankle sprains may be the most common. They’re especially commonplace in sports that involve running, jumping, or pivoting your feet. Sounds a lot like tennis, doesn’t it?

Your ankle is a complex joint, and it’s not difficult to injure it. Basically, your foot is attached to your leg by strong tissues called ligaments. If you accidentally twist your ankle, it can pull those ligaments farther than they want to go. This causes pain and swelling.

Many of the injuries on this list are more common in adults, so if you’re getting your kids into the world of tennis, you don’t have to worry too much. However, if you’re old enough to chase a tennis ball, you’re old enough to get a sprained ankle!


Unlike some of the others on this list, ankle sprains are an acute injury. What does this mean? It means that the moment you sprain your ankle, you’ll know.

When you put weight on your foot, you will feel pain in your ankle. You may also see bruising and swelling. Your ankle may also hurt to the touch.


It’s never a bad idea to see a doctor. Even if you don’t need medical intervention, they can make sure that what you’ve got is a sprained ankle, and help you assess its severity. Sometimes, people think they have a sprained ankle when really they’ve injured their Achilles Tendon. That’s another reason why seeing a doctor to get the right diagnosis is important. If they determine that you have torn ligaments, you may have to see an orthopaedic surgeon.

However, in most cases, there are a lot of things you can do at home to help recover from a sprained ankle.

One of the best things you can do for your ankle is to rest it. This means staying off of that foot. You may even want to use crutches for a while, if you still need to be out and about.

Ice will also be your friend! Ice is basically the duct tape of the sports medicine world; it can be used to help almost any sports injury. By applying ice, you’re helping the swelling to go down, numbing the pain, and speeding your recovery.

With a sprained ankle, you may want even more to help the swelling than just using ice. Compression can be a valuable strategy. Starting at the bottom of the swelling and working your way up, you want to wrap some fabric around the injury. Make sure you don’t wrap it on so tightly that you restrict blood flow. This helps to reduce swelling. 

How do you know if your compression is too tight?

A great way to find out if your compressor is too tight is to pay attention to how your foot feels. If you feel “pins and needles”, then that’s a sign that it’s too tight. Also, if your foot or toes start to feel numb or cold to the touch, or if they change colour – that’s also a sight that you need to loosen the compression.

One of the challenges with a sprained ankle is that it happens, well, on your ankle. Your foot is the lowest part of your body, so it’s easy for blood to pool there. This results in swelling. In order to counteract this, it can be helpful to use elevation. To do this, raise your injured foot above the level of your heart when you’re sleeping. This will help prevent blood from pooling in your injured ankle.

Physical therapy can also be a helpful way to regain movement and motion in your ankle. 


You guessed it! Warm up before you play tennis, and make sure you give yourself time for a cool down afterward. 

In addition to a good warm up, muscle strains and ligament tears can all be reduced by making sure you use good technique. When you’re running on the tennis court, try to remember to keep your feet lined up with the direction you’re running.

Rotating Cuff Tendinitis

As you know, tennis is a fun and exciting sport. When you start playing, it can be so enjoyable and engaging that you want to spend all your time down on the tennis court, playing with friends and improving your technique. During these times, you’re not thinking about sports injuries. However, while it’s wonderful to throw yourself into a new hobby, it’s good to remember how to do it safely.

When you’re excited about a new sport, it’s easy to overuse your body. For tennis players who overdo it, they can run the risk of suffering from Rotating Cuff Tendinitis.

What is it?

The Rotator Cuff is the network of muscles and tendons that surround your shoulder joint. In a nutshell, Rotating Cuff Tendinitis is an injury to that area.

Rotating Cuff Tendinitis goes by a few different names. You may see it referred to as bursitis, impingement, or biceps tendinitis. These names refer to different aspects of Rotating Cuff Tendinitis.

The name bursitis gives us a bit of a clue to what the condition itself is. If a word ends in “itis”, it always means swelling. So “bursitis” means swelling of or around the bursa.

To put it simply, the bursa is a tiny slippery sack of fluid that rests in your joint, acting like a little cushion. When the shoulder joint is injured, the bursa can become inflamed, causing pain.

This inflammation of the tendons and muscles around your shoulder isn’t usually caused by a single injury. For tennis players, it comes from repeated stress to the shoulder. Reaching high above your head to strike a ball can cause a pinching in your tendons. Once those tendons become more inflamed, the condition can snowball.


Of course, the first step to helping your body heal from Rotating Cuff Tendinitis is making sure that you have it in the first place. Here are some of the common symptoms:

You will notice pain in your shoulder. This pain may be more severe when you move your shoulder in certain ways, or engage the muscle through heavy lifting or impact.

You may find yourself with a limited range of motion. Moving your shoulder around can be painful, and your shoulder can feel stiff.

You may find that the pain in your shoulder increases with time, rather than decreasing. This can be because the weakened fibers in your tendons can start to tear as you use your shoulder and arm.

If you stop moving your shoulder altogether, it can cause the damaged tendons to heal improperly. This can cause a condition called Frozen Shoulder, and will require physical therapy to recover from. 


As always, if you’ve got an injury or are in a lot of pain, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Besides, it’s hard to diagnose Rotating Cuff Tendonitis on your own, since there are other possible injuries you could have that also cause shoulder pain and limited range of motion.

For that reason, if you go to see a doctor you may be given some tests to find out what, exactly, is wrong. To make sure you don’t have a broken bone, they may order an X-ray. To test for arthritis, they may give you an arthrogram, a test in which they inject dye into your shoulder joint. Even if they’re sure you’ve got Rotating Cuff Tendonitis, they may want to send you for an MRI to see the extent of the damage. Rotator Cuff tears, for instance, may require different treatment than mere inflammation.

Once you’re successfully diagnosed, it’s time for treatment. Here are some possible treatment options that may be suggested to you by your doctor:

At first, it’s good to rest the shoulder. You want to give the swelling a chance to go down. However, you don’t want to stop moving your shoulder entirely. If you do, the shoulder may stiffen into a Frozen Shoulder, which will cause pain and restrict your range of motion. Instead, you should do careful stretching with the help of a physiotherapist.

For this reason, it’s good to ask your doctor if you should see a physiotherapist. Physical Therapy can be an excellent way to recover from tendinitis. If your Rotating Cuff Tendinitis turns into a Frozen Shoulder, you will certainly have to do some physical therapy to recover.

Another way to help your recovery is with the use of ice. As with many other injuries, ice can help by reducing the inflammation, reducing the swelling, and allowing better blood flow. This won’t just help with the pain, it can also help to speed up the recovery process.

You will likely be prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication. This medication works similarly to the ice pack; bringing down the swelling and helping to reduce pain.

Your doctor may also prescribe steroids to reduce swelling. These may be taken in the form of pills or as an injection.

Sometimes, when other treatments fail to work, surgery will be on the table, so to speak. An Orthopedic Surgeon can repair damage and create more room for your shoulder joint to move without pinching the tendons. 

woman doing a chin up
Photograph of a woman doing a chin up with her back to us. Photo by GMB Fitness on Unsplash.

As with all sports injuries, prevention is far better than repair! Rotator Cuff injuries can be frustrating and painful, so let’s look at some ways to keep them from happening in the first place.

Strengthening your shoulder can be a helpful way to prevent shoulder injuries. It’s fantastic that you’re playing tennis, and that’s a great form of exercise. But by adding some other exercises to your routine, such as weight lifting or calisthenics, you can bolster your joints against injury!

Make sure when you’re starting your tennis practice that you do a complete warm up! Stretching your arms, shoulders, and legs can all help you loosen up for a match! After all, why risk an injury?

Finding a high quality tennis coach is a major way to protect yourself. They will make sure you’re using correct form and overhead technique to keep you safe from injury! 

Wrist Strains

someone clutching their wrist
Photograph of someone clutching their wrist. Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

When you’re playing tennis, every time that you hit a ball your racquet absorbs the force. But what absorbs the force from your racquet? Your wrist.

You can see how, after hours on the court, it would be easy to injure your wrist.

Fortunately, there are really great ways to avoid wrist injuries. From making sure your racquet has the right grip size, to building up proper tennis technique, a good tennis coach can help keep you or your kids safe from injury!

What is it?

Wrist strains are caused by tears or trauma being inflicted on the tendons in your wrist. Overuse injuries like this are often caused by repeated stresses to the inflicted area. However, just like a sprained ankle, sometimes a sprained wrist can happen all at once.


The symptoms of a wrist sprain are pretty simple: pain.

You may feel pain in your wrist when you move your hand in a certain way. You may feel pain when you pick something up. Or you may just feel pain all the time, even if you’re not using your wrist. Sometimes, you will also see some swelling in your wrist. However, swelling doesn’t always occur.


The treatment for a sprained wrist is quite similar to the treatment for a sprained ankle.

To start with, you want to give your wrist a rest. Put down the tennis racquet, and try not to use that hand too much until you have the chance to see a doctor or a physiotherapist.

As soon as you can, it’s a good idea to use ice to help lower the swelling. Remember to wrap the ice in a damp towel before applying it to your skin. This will help to protect you from ice burn. Apply ice once an hour for 10 minutes at a time – make sure you never apply ice for more than 15 minutes at a time!

It’s also a good idea to elevate your wrist, by holding it above the level of your heart. This helps to keep fluid from pooling in your injured wrist.

Compression is also a useful tool to help reduce the swelling. Using a compression bandage is a good idea. However, if your fingers start feeling cold to the touch, or turn blue, that means your bandage is too tight. If you feel pins and needles in your hand, that also is a sign that you’re cutting off your circulation and need to loosen the compressor.

Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen may be suggested by your doctor. It will reduce the swelling and help with the pain.

Physical therapy may also be recommended by your doctor. This means you will see a physiotherapist, who will help your wrist to heal properly.


Tennis isn’t a flick of the wrist! In order to protect your wrist, you want to make sure you’re holding your racquet properly. You also want to make sure you have good technique for your stroke.

For these reasons, one of the best preventative measures for this injury is having a good tennis coach.

Also, building up the strength in your arm and your wrist can be helpful. And, always, start your tennis practice with a warm up and make sure to do a cool down after as well!

Jumper’s Knee

What is it?

Jumper’s Knee, also sometimes called Tennis Knee, is medically known as patellar tendinitis. That name just means it’s a swelling of the patellar tendon. The patellar tendon connects your your shinbone to your patella, the small bone that makes up your kneecap. When you engage in activity that involves a lot of impact for your knee, such as jumping or running, this can cause inflammation of the tendon.

It’s not a difficult problem to treat, however if you leave it untreated, it can cause long term problems. 


As with all injuries, pain will be a prominent symptom. You may feel this pain in your knee, especially when you’re bending or straightening your leg. 

Sometimes, Jumper’s Knee also results in swelling. However, just because you don’t see swelling doesn’t mean you haven’t been injured!

Knee with an electric compressor on it
Picture of a knee with an electric compressor on it. Photo by Terry Shultz P.T. on Unsplash.

Knee injuries can be very problematic, and it’s important to talk to a doctor or physiotherapist.

For this injury, you can use the same advice as for wrist sprains or sprained ankles. That means use ice, compression, rest, and elevation.

When applying ice, make sure you wrap it in a damp towel before applying it to your knee. Use ice for no more than 10 minutes at a time, only once an hour.

To help the swelling, you may be injected with steroids, such as cortisol.

You may also be advised by your medical professional to use a knee brace. This will help protect your knee while it heals.

In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary. However, this is relatively uncommon.


Fortunately, there are several ways to help prevent Jumper’s Knee!

Wearing the right shoes for the kind of court you’re using is a good way to protect your knees.

Warming up before playing tennis and cooling down afterward can also be very helpful!

Also, strengthening your knee through regular and careful exercise can also help protect it. 


Playing tennis
Photograph of two tennis players looking across a tennis net at each other. Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash.

There you have it! Now you know some of the most common tennis injuries, and what to do to prevent and treat them!

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Have fun, and stay safe!

Jonathan Stanfield

Jonathan got his tennis start in Saskatoon, waking up early each morning to practice before anyone else could reserve the free courts. Since then, his interests have widened: he works professionally for a Canadian ad agency, has several published short stories, and has recently taken up photography. Tennis remains a passion for Jonathan and he always feels most at home on a tennis court.