How is tennis elbow treated?

Tennis elbow is usually treated by medical means, and only rarely by surgery. The goals of treatment are to:

  1. Reduce or relieve pain and inflammation (swelling) — This is the first step in the treatment process and may include:
  • Resting and avoiding any activity that causes pain to the sore elbow
  • Applying ice to the affected area
  • Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen
  • Use of a counter-force brace such as a tennis elbow strap on the forearm for forceful activities
  • Use of a wrist splint at night to rest the muscles and tendons
  • Using cortisone-type medication, provided by injection into the sore area. This treatment may be needed for severe or prolonged symptoms.
  1. Allow the injured elbow to recover and heal — This step begins a couple of weeks after pain has been reduced or stopped. The step involves:
  • Doing specific physical therapy exercises to stretch out and lengthen and strengthen muscles and tendons near the injured elbow
  • Avoiding activities that aggravate pain
  1. Decrease stress and abuse on the elbow — This part of the treatment process may include:
  • Use of the proper equipment in sports and on the job
  • Use of the proper technique in sports or on the job
  • Use of a counter-force brace, an elastic band that wraps around the forearm just below the injured elbow (tendon), to help relieve pain
  • Use of a splint at night to keep your wrist in a neutral position
  • More advanced treatments may be appropriate depending on the length and severity of your symptoms and may include use of nitrogen products, PRP (patient's own platelets), shockwave, or even surgery.

The type of treatment will depend on several factors, including the person's age, type of other medications being taken, overall health, medical history, and severity of pain.

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