Tennis elbow is typically diagnosed due to the characteristic pain which occurs as a result of the injury. Pain is the most common symptom of tennis elbow, although this can vary dramatically in its nature, depending on the full extent of the injury.
For example, the pain which accompanies tennis elbow can range all the way from a very mild sensation of discomfort, which can be felt when the elbow is being used normally (for example, such as twisting a jar), right the way up to extreme pain, even when the elbow is completely still.
In some cases, the pain can be so extreme as to prevent everyday activities such as holding a cup, or opening a door handle. In some cases, bending the wrist backwards against force can also exacerbate the pain; this can include activities such as performing a backhand move when playing tennis, or even using a screwdriver normally.
Some people might also notice that their grip is weaker than it normally is (and this is particularly noticeable when shaking hands) and that their elbow is also stiffer than normal.
Due to the characteristic symptoms described, it is most common for individuals with tennis elbow to self-diagnose the condition; although, if required, the diagnosis can be confirmed by a general practitioner (GP) or physiotherapist, who will ask specific questions about your work, medical history and hobbies, as well as asking about potential causes of your symptoms.
In some cases, your GP might advise you to have additional tests to rule out other causes of the pain. This might include an X-ray, which can differentiate tennis elbow from a broken bone or osteoarthritis. Alternatively, blood tests can ensure that the symptoms of tennis elbow are not due to rheumatoid disease, which is a tendency to affect multiple joints.