What Can I Do for Tennis Elbow?
You’ve probably heard of tennis elbow but may not know exactly what it is or how it can be treated.
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow involves inflammation of the muscles and tendons located around the outside of the elbow.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Symptoms of tennis elbow often develop gradually and worsen over time. Your dominant arm is most often affected, but you can have tennis elbow in both arms. Common symptoms include the following:
- Pain around the outside of the elbow
- Worsening pain when shaking hands, squeezing objects, or performing everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth, opening jars, or using utensils to eat
- Weakened grip strength
Who gets tennis elbow?
You don’t have to play tennis to get tennis elbow, although many tennis players do. It’s often caused by the repetitive use of the forearm muscle, so people who are plumbers, painters, gardeners, assembly line workers, and cooks are vulnerable to this type of injury. It occurs most often between the ages of 30 and 50, although it can occur at any age.
How is tennis elbow diagnosed?
Your doctor will talk to you about your medical history and ask about how your symptoms developed. He or she will also talk to you about your occupation and recreational activities to determine if you may have suffered an injury as a result of repetitive forearm motions.
In addition, your elbow and arm will be physically examined, and you may be asked to perform tasks such as extending your arm and trying to straighten your wrist and fingers against resistance.
How can you reduce the pain of tennis elbow?
The following can reduce pain associated with tennis elbow:
- Resting and avoiding activities that make your pain worse
- Applying ice or warm, moist heat to the outside of your elbow for 10 to 15 minutes at a time several times a day.
- Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) – medicines such as ibuprofen or aspirin can help reduce pain and swelling
- Using cortisone creams or injections administered by your doctor to help reduce inflammation
- Wearing a brace – A brace centered over the back of your forearm can help your muscles and tendons rest and help relieve symptoms
- Performing simple exercises – warm-up and stretching exercises can keep tendons from getting stiff, but if you feel pain, you should stop.
What are the best treatments for tennis elbow?
Non-surgical options such as rest and the use of medication are often the best treatments for tennis elbow and may be all that’s needed. If these are unsuccessful, however, your doctor may recommend surgery. This depends on the extent of your injury, your medical history, and your specific needs. For example, surgery may help you continue in your profession or a sport that you love.
Surgery usually involves cutting the tendon and removing inflamed tissue from the tendon. The tendon may then be reattached if it’s possible to do this without over tightening it.
Surgery may be performed using open surgery (which involves making an incision over the elbow), arthroscopic surgery (which involves smaller incisions), or both. Either way, tennis elbow surgery is usually performed as an outpatient surgery and doesn’t usually require an overnight stay.
If you’re experiencing pain on the outside of your elbow, schedule an appointment with Mirza Orthopedics today to take the first step toward relieving your pain and improving your grip strength. We’ll obtain the information needed to make an accurate diagnosis so we can recommend the best treatments for tennis elbow or other conditions.