Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of tendons that may be damaged from overuse. Unsurprisingly, it is often caused by overuse in sports such as tennis or other racquet sports; however, there are several other activities that may also put you at risk. Repeating the same motions over and over again can lead to damage, creating an inflammation of the tendons that join your forearm muscles, and the pain associated with it.
Treating Tennis Elbow
There are many treatment options for tennis elbow, aimed at reducing pain and ultimately recovering from the condition. Your primary doctor, physical therapist, and orthopedic surgeon will work together to decide on and provide the most effective care for you. 80-95% of patients with tennis elbow symptoms will recover without surgery. Non-surgical remedies include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
If your symptoms do not improve in 6-12 months, your doctor may recommend surgery. The right type of surgery will depend on the severity of your injury, your personal needs, and your general health. Talk with your doctor to decide on the right surgical approach for you:
- Open surgery – This is the most common surgical treatment for tennis elbow. It is an outpatient surgery and rarely requires an overnight stay.
- Arthroscopic surgery – Using miniature instruments and creating small incisions, tennis elbow can also be repaired with arthroscopic, out-patient surgery.
After surgery, your arm may be immobilized with a splint. Splints are often only necessary for about a week, and will be removed after that. After the splint is taken off, you may begin exercises aimed at restoring strength and flexibility.
Tennis elbow surgery has been found successful in 80-90% of patients; however, a loss of strength in the elbow is not uncommon.