Serving Up Tennis Elbow?

Chronic lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is caused by repetitive arm motions and can result in significant elbow pain. Tennis elbow is a common overuse injury affecting athletes and non-athletes alike. An individual with tennis elbow may experience pain and inflammation on the outside of the elbow, difficulty gripping objects, and weakness in the affected arm. If left untreated, the condition can lead to long-term pain and decreased arm function. While surgery is an effective option, there are also non-surgical options available to effectively treat and alleviate the symptoms.


1. Try rest and activity modification

As with other overuse injuries, rest is the first step to allow the body to heal and recover. Resting the affected arm can help reduce inflammation and prevent further irritation of the tendons in the elbow. During this period, modifying the activity that caused the tennis elbow is crucial to prevent exacerbating the condition. This may involve avoiding certain repetitive arm motions or using proper technique and equipment to reduce strain on the tendons. The method may even require pausing the activity that causes the condition, like sports or work, for a short period.

2. Physical therapy and exercise

Another effective non-surgical treatment for tennis elbow is physical therapy (PT) and exercise. This may include stretching exercises, strength training, and manual therapy techniques. Other modalities, such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation, can support PT efforts. Exercises should be performed several times daily for the best results. Physical therapy and exercise can help strengthen the muscles around the elbow, improve range of motion (ROM), reduce pain, and restore flexibility.

3. Try orthotic devices

Braces or splints can support and stabilize the affected arm and reduce strain on the tendons. Orthotic devices are designed to limit movement and promote healing by immobilizing the elbow joint. Braces or splints can be worn during daily activities or when the arm is more likely to be strained during sports or repetitive work tasks. With support, individuals can continue regular activities while minimizing strain on the affected arm and allowing proper healing.

4. Medications and pain management

Since tennis elbow is characterized by pain and inflammation, medications can be used to manage the symptoms. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and inflammation in the affected arm. NSAIDs can be taken orally or applied topically in the form of creams or gels. Corticosteroid injections may be recommended for more severe cases to provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation. Medications and other pain management strategies should always be discussed with a healthcare professional to ensure proper dosage and effectiveness for individual cases.

Let’s ace tennis elbow

Individuals experiencing elbow pain and weakness in the arm should consult a healthcare professional to determine the cause of elbow symptoms and develop a comprehensive treatment plan. This plan may include a combination of non-surgical treatments tailored to each individual’s specific needs and circumstances. In the worst cases, surgical intervention may be considered as a last resort to repair damaged tendons or remove scar tissue. Taking good care of the elbow with rest, PT, orthotics, and pain control is often enough to improve function and quality of life.

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