Ace Tennis Elbow Treatment

Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a common overuse injury affecting the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the elbow’s outer part. Treatment for tennis elbow typically begins with non-surgical techniques such as rest, physical therapy (PT), and ice. Conservative methods aim to reduce inflammation and pain, improve flexibility and strength, and promote healing of the affected tendons.


What is tennis elbow?

Athletes and manual workers, especially individuals who play racket sports or engage in repetitive gripping activities, are most at risk for developing tennis elbow. The condition is characterized by pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, weakness in the grip, and pain that worsens with gripping or lifting activities. Several non-surgical techniques can be used to reduce pain and help avoid the need for surgery.

Rest is essential

The most important step in treating tennis elbow is resting the affected arm. Resting means avoiding activities that aggravate the elbow, such as gripping or lifting heavy objects. Resting the elbow allows the inflammation and pain to subside and gives the damaged tendons a chance to heal. Rest alone may not be enough to fully recover from tennis elbow, and other treatments, such as PT, should be used in conjunction with rest.

Ice the elbow

Applying ice to the elbow can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Ice should be applied to the elbow for 10-20 minutes at a time. The cold temperature helps constrict blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the area and can help lower inflammation. Cold therapy can also help to numb the affected area, which can help to reduce pain during recovery.

PT to stretch and strengthen

An essential part of treatment for tennis elbow is physical therapy. Physical therapists can help stretch and strengthen the forearm and elbow muscles, as well as improve range of motion (ROM) and flexibility. Exercises may include wrist flexion and extension, forearm pronation and supination, and elbow flexion and extension. Physical therapy can help to reduce pain and inflammation and promote recovery of the affected tendons.

Medications can help

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with tennis elbow. However, over-the-counter (OTC) NSAID medications can have side effects and should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Support the elbow

Braces and straps can support the affected tendons and reduce stress on the arm. Orthotics can help to reduce pain and inflammation and promote faster recovery of the affected tendons. Commonly used orthotics for tennis elbow include elbow straps, counterforce bracing, and forearm straps.

Acupuncture and ultrasound

Several alternative methods may help reduce pain and inflammation of the affected tendons. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points of the body. Ultrasound therapy uses high-frequency sound waves to produce heat in the affected tissue, which can help to reduce inflammation and pain.

When is surgery necessary?

Most patients with tennis elbow recover well with conservative treatment and return to the previous level of activity. However, recovery can take several months, and some patients may experience chronic pain or recurrent symptoms even after non-surgical treatment. In such cases, surgical intervention may be considered.

What to expect during surgery

If a patient decides to pursue surgery for tennis elbow, an arthroscopy can be done. The surgery typically involves the release of the affected tendons from the lateral epicondyle and debriding of any damaged tissue. The surgery is performed using minimally invasive techniques by inserting tools and a camera through a small incision. Recovery from surgery can take several weeks, and PT is usually required to regain strength and range of motion.

Game, set, match

Non-surgical techniques are often enough for patients suffering from tennis elbow. However, some patients may require surgical intervention if conservative treatments do not work or chronic pain or recurrent symptoms are experienced. Individuals should consult an orthopedic surgeon to determine the best course of treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment of tennis elbow are crucial to promoting healing.

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