Tennis Elbow Treatment

Medically Reviewed By : Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS

Overview

Treatment of tennis elbow is significant as it cannot not recover overnight and might take upto 6 to 12 months to heal depending on the severity of the injury. Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis or lateral epicondyle tendinopathy (LET) is named after the elbow pain which is observed among in tennis players, but many more people other than sportspeople, including cooks, dentists, musicians, painters, carpenters, plumbers, and other manual laborers can also get affected by this condition. Lateral epicondylitis is a painful overuse injury that occurs to the elbow.

Repetitive and vigorous forearm movements can cause injury to the tendon and forearm muscles. This injury gives you pain in your elbow region. In this article, we will see in-depth about its signs, symptoms, diagnosis and both medical treatment of tennis elbow as well as tennis elbow treatment at home.
tennis elbow treatment

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, before going into it, let’s look into the anatomy of our elbow joint. The elbow joint is made up of three bones, the upper arm bone (humerus) and two forearm bones (radius and ulna). In the lower end of the humerus bone, there are two epicondyles, one medial and one lateral. The tendon connects muscles to the bone. The area of pain is at the lateral epicondyle. Usually, along with the extensor muscles of the forearm, the tendon, extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) is involved, but others may also include such as the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor digitorum, and extensor carpi ulnaris.

Tennis elbow or lateral epicondyle tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons in the epicondyles. The inflammation can be resulting from overstraining the muscles and tendons of the forearm. There may be a partial tear of the tendon fibers at or near its origin. This produces pain in the outer part of the elbow.

What could be the signs and symptoms of tennis elbow?

Treatment of tennis elbow will be decided upon the signs and symptoms shown by a particular individual.

Symptoms may include:

Signs one may find:

How to treat tennis elbow?

Treatment of tennis elbow can be by various methods which include both non-invasive and surgical procedures. Here will see all the types of treatment in detail.

Non-operative medical treatment for tennis elbow

Non-operative or non-invasive procedures are always the initial choice opted by the physicians to treat tennis elbow. This method aims to relieve pain and inflammation of the site.The treatment include:

Surgical treatment

Surgery is considered as the treatment of tennis elbow only when the non-operative medical treatment for about 6 months has shown not much progress in recovering from the injury. The surgery is aimed to repair the injured muscle or to remove the injured part of a muscle, then reattach it back to the bone.

General Physiotherapy

The general physiotherapy treatment of tennis elbow includes education on pain control and modifying activities, massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), laser, shockwave therapy, supervised exercises such as strengthening and stretching, sport or occupation specific rehabilitation. Let us see more details about some physiotherapy techniques used for tennis elbow.

Exercise therapy

The purpose of exercise therapy is to restore normal musculoskeletal function or to reduce pain that is caused by diseases or injuries. Combinations of exercise and manipulation or exercise and stretching may help in pain relief.

(i) Load (or resistance), here, the basic principle of progressive overload is that increase in the load ensures that the tendon is subjected to greater stress making it stronger.
(ii) The speed (velocity) of contractions is also a fundamental principle in which the speed of the eccentric exercise should be increased.
(iii) The frequency of contractions is the third principle of which is the variations of sets and repetitions of exercise.

Theraband Exercise

In this, you have to fix the one side of the theraband under your feet or any place and take the other side in your hand. The patient starts the exercise in wrist flexion, then a wrist extension and very slowly comes back to the start position. A 3 sets of 10 has to be performed daily. Supervised exercise consists of static stretching and eccentric strengthening. These exercises for 4 weeks are reported to have higher effects in reducing pain and function. Once the patients can do this, they can progress to another colour of theraband with greater strength. Theraband exercises (or exercises with a small weight) are to be performed daily for 3 sets of 10.

Taping

This can be included as a tennis elbow treatment at home and taping will help to reduce pain as well as improve functional performance. A rigid tape can be used which will reduce stress and support the forearm. The size and shape of the tape, as well as the location of the tape to be stuck, have to be tailored for each individual according to the severity. Using this tape and resting at home will be helpful.

Tennis elbow treatment at home