Tennis Elbow Treatment in Houston, TX

by | Mar 20, 2024

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that occurs when the tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. It involves small tears in the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon. Although the area of pain is in the elbow, tennis elbow affects anyone who performs activities that involve repetitive gripping motions. The reason is that when we grasp or grip, we activate the extensor tendons, which originate from the lateral (outside) aspect of the elbow.

Symptoms of tennis elbow may include pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, weakness in the forearm, difficulty in gripping objects, and discomfort when performing certain movements, such as shaking hands or turning a doorknob. Occasionally, the pain can go into the proximal forearm. This is called radial tunnel syndrome, and a certain percentage of patients can have both.

Diagnosis is clinical. Imaging such as x-rays or MRI’s are not necessary to confirm the diagnosis. However, many individuals will have already had one or both by the time they see a specialist. Luckily, the vast majority of patient who have tennis elbow will have resolution of symptoms with rest and modification of their activities. However, this can take up to 6 months or longer.

The probable most important treatment for tennis elbow is stop performing the offending movements that aggravated the elbow in the first place. This involves lifting with the palms up, which tends to put less pressure on the wrist, which in turn puts less pressure on the elbow.

Besides rest, the following are the other treatment options:

  • Ice therapy: Applying ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Pain relief medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. This is typically more helpful early on in the diagnosis of tennis elbow.
  • Physical therapy or home exercises: Specific exercises and stretches can be helpful. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has the following as an example Tennis Elbow Exercises
  • Brace or splint: Wearing a brace in the forearm as a counterforce brace and help. Sometimes the use of a wrist splint that reduces wrist flexion and extension and help with severe symptoms.
  • Corticosteroid injections: For many years, steroid injections were one of the first lines of treatment. However, recent studies have shown that while steroids may provide short-term relief, medium and long-term effect can actually be negative.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: In this procedure, a concentrated solution of platelets from your own blood is injected into the affected area to promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation. There have been research that have shown that PRP can help but the data is still quite new and there’s not a consensus in the academic community.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where conservative treatments have failed to provide relief, surgery may be recommended to remove damaged tissue or reattach the tendon to the bone.

The diagnosis of tennis elbow is often dreaded because it may stop you from what you want to do for a while. However, with modification of activities and use of anti-inflammatory medications and bracing, many patients can have some symptoms relief while waiting for their body to heal. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (713) 794-337and we’d be happy to see you.

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