Treatment of Tennis Elbow

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ID-100147471Tennis elbow is inflammation of lateral epicondyle of elbow, which makes elbow painful, sore and tender. Common causes of tennis elbow include playing sports that need a racket or bat for playing (such as tennis, badminton, cricket, baseball etc.). Tennis elbow results from forceful overextension of muscles.

Treatment of tennis elbow is not easy and may not show desired and expected results. However, in some cases tennis elbow symptoms may disappear in 6 months to two years. However, one cannot rely on natural healing process for symptoms of tennis elbow to mend by itself. If left untreated, tennis elbow can lead to development of chronic symptoms (mainly pain) and cause deterioration of quality of life.

Treatment of tennis elbow can be usually done by three methods namely by physical therapy, medications and surgery. In some patients, all the three modalities of treatment may have to be used for achieving result. In some patients, one or two modalities may suffice.

Physical method of treatment of tennis elbow:

Physical therapy for treatment of tennis elbow is recommended by many (although there is no conclusive evidence of exact benefits of physiotherapy in tennis elbow) experts. Various exercises, manipulative procedures (manipulation of wrist, elbow as well as spine manipulation) and laser therapy are used, with varying results. Muscle strengthening exercises for muscles of arm and forearm is also useful for speedy recovery and prevention of tennis elbow.

Medications used for treatment of tennis elbow:

Commonly used medications for treatment of tennis elbow are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Usually they are used as topical application. The benefits of using NSAIDs orally are doubtful. Use of local injection of steroids, botulinum toxin etc. are controversial. They may provide short-term relief, but long-term benefit is not seen with local injections. Use of steroid injections also have serious potential side effects, such as hypo-pigmentation of skin, atrophy of skin etc.

Surgery for treatment of tennis elbow:

In many long-standing cases of tennis elbow, surgery may be an option of treatment with mixed results.

Prognosis of treatment of tennis elbow is mixed. Most cases respond to treatment on short term, but long-term benefits are less common. Up to half of the patients, there is relapse of symptoms of tennis elbow. Approximately 40% of patients there may be prolonged moderate symptoms of tennis elbow, even after optimal treatment.

“Image courtesy of Praisaeng / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

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