Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition that affects athletes and non-athletes alike. It is characterized by pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, making everyday tasks such as lifting objects or gripping a racket extremely painful. If you’re dealing with tennis elbow, you may be wondering what your treatment options are. Luckily, there are several effective treatments available that can provide relief and help you get back to your active lifestyle. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best tennis elbow treatments to serve up relief for your pain. At the practice of Steven C. Thomas, MD, Justin B. Limtong, DO and Donald W Pennington, DO. Our board-certified surgeons specialize in treating elbow injuries and conditions in the Las Vegas area.
Understanding Tennis Elbow: Know Your Adversary
Tennis elbow is a condition that affects not only tennis players but also people from various walks of life. It is important to understand the nature of this adversary in order to effectively combat it. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury that occurs when the tendons in the elbow are strained or damaged. The primary cause of tennis elbow is repetitive movements of the forearm and wrist, such as gripping a tennis racket, but it can also be caused by activities like painting, gardening, or even typing on a keyboard for long periods of time.
The pain and discomfort associated with tennis elbow are often localized on the outer part of the elbow and can radiate down the forearm. It can make simple tasks like lifting a cup or shaking hands unbearable. The condition is not limited to athletes, as anyone who performs repetitive motions with their arms and hands can develop tennis elbow.
Understanding the causes and symptoms of tennis elbow is the first step in finding the right treatment approach. By recognizing the adversary and its impact on your daily life, you can begin to explore the various treatment options available to provide relief and get back to doing what you love.
Diagnosis: When to Seek Medical Advice
Diagnosing tennis elbow is an essential step in finding the right treatment plan for your pain and discomfort. While the symptoms of tennis elbow are often easy to recognize, it is still important to seek medical advice to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any other potential conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
So, when should you seek medical advice for your tennis elbow? If you are experiencing persistent pain in your elbow that lasts for more than a few days, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional. They will be able to assess your symptoms, perform a physical examination, and potentially order imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI to get a clearer picture of what is happening inside your elbow.
It’s also important to seek medical advice if your symptoms are worsening, if you are unable to perform daily activities due to the pain, or if you are experiencing other symptoms such as swelling or numbness in your arm. These could be signs of a more severe injury or another underlying condition that requires medical attention.
Remember, early diagnosis and treatment of tennis elbow can lead to faster recovery and a higher chance of returning to your normal activities. So don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if you’re unsure about your condition or if your symptoms are causing significant discomfort. Your healthcare professional will be able to guide you towards the best treatment options for your specific situation.
Physical Therapy: Strengthening Your Way to Relief
Physical therapy is often recommended as a first-line treatment for tennis elbow, and for good reason. It is a non-invasive, effective approach that can provide long-term relief from pain and help you regain strength and flexibility in your elbow and forearm.
During physical therapy sessions, a qualified therapist will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. They will guide you through exercises and techniques designed to strengthen the muscles in your forearm, improve flexibility, and promote healing.
One common exercise used in physical therapy for tennis elbow is called the eccentric exercise. This involves slowly lowering a weight with your affected hand, which helps to strengthen the tendon and reduce strain on the elbow. Your therapist may also incorporate other exercises such as wrist curls, forearm stretches, and grip strengthening exercises to target the affected area and improve overall function.
In addition to exercises, your physical therapist may also use other modalities such as ultrasound, massage, or electrical stimulation to reduce pain and inflammation, promote blood flow, and enhance the healing process.
The duration of your physical therapy treatment will vary depending on the severity of your condition and your individual progress. Most people typically attend sessions for a few weeks to a couple of months. Your therapist will closely monitor your progress and make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed.
It’s important to note that consistency and commitment to your physical therapy exercises and sessions are crucial for achieving the best results. By working closely with your therapist and following their guidance, you can strengthen your way to relief and get back to the activities you love without the pain and discomfort of tennis elbow.
Steroid Injections: A Potent Solution for Persistent Pain
Steroid injections can be a potent solution for persistent pain associated with tennis elbow. If other conservative treatments have not provided enough relief, your healthcare professional may recommend this option. Steroid injections involve the injection of corticosteroid medication directly into the affected area to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
These injections can provide quick and effective relief, as corticosteroids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. They work by reducing the production of inflammatory substances in the body, thus relieving pain and swelling. Many individuals experience significant pain relief within a few days of receiving the injection.
It’s important to note that steroid injections are not a permanent solution for tennis elbow. They are typically used as a temporary measure to provide relief while other treatments, such as physical therapy, take effect. The number of injections you may receive will depend on your specific condition and the advice of your healthcare professional.
Although steroid injections can be effective, they are not without potential side effects. Some individuals may experience temporary flare-ups of pain or swelling after the injection. Additionally, repeated use of steroid injections may weaken the tendons over time. Your healthcare professional will carefully assess the risks and benefits of steroid injections in your specific case to determine if they are the right option for you.
Overall, steroid injections can be a powerful tool in the treatment of tennis elbow, providing significant pain relief and allowing you to get back to your daily activities. However, it’s important to remember that they should be used in conjunction with other treatments to address the underlying causes of tennis elbow and promote long-term healing.
Surgery is considered a last resort treatment option for tennis elbow, reserved for cases where all other treatments have failed to provide relief. While the majority of tennis elbow cases can be effectively managed with non-invasive methods, there are instances where surgical intervention may be necessary.
During the surgical procedure, the damaged tendon in the elbow is repaired or removed, depending on the severity of the injury. This can be done through traditional open surgery or minimally invasive techniques such as arthroscopy. The specific surgical approach will depend on various factors, including the location and extent of the tendon damage.
It’s important to note that surgery for tennis elbow is not without risks. As with any surgical procedure, there is a potential for complications such as infection, nerve damage, or stiffness in the joint. Recovery from surgery may also involve a period of immobilization and rehabilitation to regain strength and flexibility in the elbow.
While surgery can provide significant relief for some individuals with tennis elbow, it is important to have a thorough discussion with your healthcare professional to weigh the risks and benefits of surgery in your specific case. They will be able to provide personalized recommendations based on your condition and treatment goals.
Contact Surgeons Dr. Thomas, Dr. Pennington, and Dr. Limtong at the Knee and Shoulder Institute in Las Vegas, NV to Schedule an Appointment:
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