Treatments for Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a condition that is caused by the inflammation of the tendons found on the lateral epicondyle of your elbow. This condition is mainly caused by repetitive movement of your wrist. Tennis elbow is said to be a self-limiting condition. This means that you get better without treatment, gradually over time. However, tennis elbow can last for weeks or months since the tendons heal slowly. It can also last for a year or more if left untreated.
Despite the fact that it is a self-limiting condition, tennis elbow can be very painful and require some treatment to reduce pain.
The following are treatment measures for tennis elbow:
1. Use of NSAIDs and Painkillers
Taking some painkillers such as paracetamol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, can help reduce the inflammation and mild pain induced by tennis elbow. Apart from tablets, NSAIDS are also available in the form of creams and gels which are applied directly to the painful areas of your forearms or elbows.
Creams and gels also known as topical NSAIDs are preferred to anti-inflammatory tablets when it comes to treatment of tennis elbow. This is because they can reduce pain and inflammation without causing side effects such as diarrhea and nausea.
If your tennis elbow is causing severe and persistent pain, your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist is a healthcare professional who uses different methods to restore joint movements of the body in injured areas.
Physiotherapy involves use of manual therapy techniques such as massage and joint manipulations aimed at reducing pain, stiffness and to encourage blood flow in your arm. Physiotherapists will also show you exercises you can perform to strengthen forearm muscles and maintain arm mobility. Physiotherapists may also recommend use of orthoses such as support bandages, braces and arm straps for short term treatment.
3. Shock wave therapy
In this treatment therapy, high-energy shock waves are passed through your skin to aid movement and also help relieve pain in the affected area. The sessions for shock-wave therapy depend on the pain in the affected area. During a shock wave therapy procedure, local anesthetics are used to reduce pain and discomfort.
According to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) shock wave therapy is safe, but it can cause minor side effects such as skin reddening and bruising of the treated area.
4. Corticosteroid Injections
Corticosteroid injections are at times used to treat painful musculoskeletal conditions, despite having limited clinical evidence to support it. Corticosteroids are medications containing cortisol hormone which is man-made. Corticosteroid injection has been known to reduce tennis elbow pain in the short term, although long term effects have shown poor results. Corticosteroid injections are made directly on the painful portion of the elbow. During this procedure, local anesthetics are given to reduce the pain of the infected area.
5. Avoiding repetitive activities
If you have tennis elbow, you should avoid any activities that would cause strain to the muscles and affected tendons. You need to avoid any activities or straining muscles until your arm pain lessens.
You can also modify the way you perform your arm activities to make sure that the movements does not strain your arm muscles.
Surgery should be the last option in treatment of tennis elbow. Surgery should be considered when you have severe and persistent pain. During surgery, the damaged part of the tendon is removed.
Although you can treat tennis elbow at home by simple means such as freezing, there is a need for advanced treatment if the condition persists for more than a year. Tennis elbow can also be treated by anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers.