Playing with Tennis Elbow any suggestions


I got a diagnosis of Tennis Elbow earlier this summer. It's inflammation of the tendons in the forearm running from the elbow to the wrist. The result is extreme pain in the forearm and or hand. Per doctors order I've laid low on the arm, even used a sling and haven't played out since May. My Doctor warned me if I kept playing back then, I was looking at a possible operation to repair torn tendons. My wife has made it clear that if I end up with an operation she will have no sympathy and kill me. I've already had 3 back surgeries and 1 neck surgery for spinal injuries. I now have a full schedule plying once per weekend from this weekend until mid November.

I need advice on playing but not injuring the arm more. It still hurts but not near as much as it did. I wear a arm band / brace right past the elbow area, take Anti-inflammatory meds (Ibuprofen) and Ice my arm after playing. I also watch to not hit too hard and to ease up on my grip.

Anyone else who has been through this injury, can you please give me some tips to get through the gigs without additional injury. Thanks, Spiney-Dave


Senior Member
I've been through it with both arms. Started by laying off the kit for a month, icing and heavy on the meds. When I was ready to start playing again, there was still pain and it could get very stiff. Here's some of the stuff that I did to get through it in addition to what you are doing.

  • Took a dose of Advil before each session. Helps to keep loose and you have it already working when you're done.
  • Spent 20 minutes of stretching before each session as well as constantly through out the day. Keeping tension out of your arms at all times if pretty critical.
  • Bought a small brace that frets the muscles at the upper forearm, preventing too much tension from reaching the injured area at your elbow.
  • Started each session with a 20 minute warm up. Tommy Igoe's Great Hands DVD has some really good exercises that are simple, gradual and lengthy, which is perfect for rehabilitating this injury, IMO.
  • Changed my grip to be more French and worked intensely on staying relaxed. I wouldn't start until I was loose and would stop immediately whenever I noticed tension building up. This turned out to be good for a lot more than getting over my injury.
  • Limited my time behind the kit to no more than two hours per day with regular breaks every 20 minutes.
  • Ice and deep, sometimes painful, massage after each workout to wring out any tension that was built up. I would sometimes work on my forearms for up to an hour after playing.
  • Got used to the idea that this injury might take a year or more to truly recover. This was the hardest part because the recovery can be so slow as to not be very noticeable, which can be quite depressing.

All told, it took me a year and half to get back to normal, but I did get a much improved technique and sound out of the deal.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
You've paid for a doctors advice and you ask us? I would do what the doc said and layoff. If drumming isn't your main source of income, give it a rest. A long rest. Then maybe see why you have this issue. Maybe a technique thing. REST

Too Many Songs

Senior Member
I need advice on playing but not injuring the arm more.
The major's right. Go to your doctor. If he tells you to lay off for a while longer and you still take on the gigs then you'll need to go and see a divorce lawyer and a surgeon. After you've done that you can work out what you are going to do every weekend for the rest of your life given that you can't play drums anymore.

If the doctor says its OK to play with anti-inflammatory's like Advil then go and get some lessons from the best teacher you can find with a view to improving your technique.
Hello, Joey here!
you definitely should give it a rest. I you play more on it, its just going to aggravate it and things will get worse. rest now for a month or so now rather than do more damage and it's no drums for 12 months.

Good Luck!



Platinum Member
I suffered through what I thought was Tennis Elbow for years. I had the swelling, the pain etc... Doctors would presrcibe Motrin, Advil etc.. and blow it off. I thought my playing days were over.

Finally one Air Force Orthopedic Surgeon suggested I had "Loose Bodies" in the joint. (he was sympathetic to my drumming). He guessed it was tiny bits of cartlidge but told me the only way to know for sure was to go in and look. Everyone advised me not to do it but i gave the doc the ok and he went in and flushed out over ten pieces of loose bodies from the joint area. Followed up with 4 weeks of PT and I was good to go. That was back in 1988 and i haven't had a problem since.


Ted T

I'm a frequent tennis player, drummer, guitarist, piano poker, data entry clerk, weightlifter, and softball player. So when the arm wants a rest... GIVE IT REST! A month of can make a big difference. I have to take breaks from tennis, and I absolutely hate it. I want to play 4 hours a day every day...

That's about all the advice I can give. Let your body do what it can without interference from what's causing the problem. Like Muckster said, maybe you should make sure you know what you are dealing with.