How Do I Treat Tennis Elbow?

How Do I Treat Tennis Elbow?

You’ve loved the game of tennis since you were a child and play regularly. Lately, you’ve been feeling twinges of a sharp, burning pain in your elbow. Now you’re having trouble even hitting a hard forehand. What’s going on? You likely have tennis elbow; the technical name is lateral epicondylitis.   

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow treat many cases of tennis elbow at our offices in Atlanta, Marietta, and Watkinsville, Georgia. We’ll get you back in the game as soon as it’s safely possible. 

What is tennis elbow? 

If you’re diagnosed with tennis elbow, your tendons, strong bands of tissue that attach your arm muscles to your arm bones, are irritated and inflamed. In severe cases, you may have small tears in the tendons. 

Symptoms of tennis elbow include a painful, burning sensation in the elbow that can run down to your wrist, especially when you bend or turn your arm; swelling; trouble gripping your racquet; and trouble with movements like opening a jar. 

Don’t wait to seek medical attention until you can’t twist a doorknob. Early treatment is always best, because you have less tissue damage then than if you let the condition worsen over time. 

What are effective treatments for tennis elbow? 

Our physicians use a variety of methods to treat your injury. Following are effective treatments for  tennis elbow. 

Rest and ice 

The first order of business for a tennis elbow injury is rest. You’ll need to take a break from the court for a little while to give your tendons time to recover. You can apply an ice pack to the area for about 15 minutes several times during the day to relieve any swelling and reduce pain. 

Medication

You’re probably already taking ibuprofen. Your physician can prescribe a stronger dose of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory if needed.

Steroid injection  

If your pain and other symptoms are severe, your doctor can give you a steroid injection. We use ultrasound guidance to assure the needle is inserted in the correct place for maximum effect. The shot should provide relief within a day or two, if not immediately. 

Brace or splint  

To help protect your elbow and let it sit in a resting position, your doctor may provide a brace or splint. A counterforce brace lessens the tension on your wrist and elbow tendons, protecting the tendons while they heal. 

Physical therapy 

Once your pain and swelling are under control, your physician prescribes physical therapy. We offer therapy right on our premises so you don’t have to travel to another location. 

You’ll start out with passive modalities such as massage, ultrasound, and very gentle movement, and progress to more active modalities including exercises that strengthen the forearm muscles so you can once again grip objects normally. Physical therapy helps you regain mobility and flexibility in the injured area and is a key part of tennis elbow treatment. 

Surgery 

If conservative treatments don’t work, your physician can perform minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair the damaged tendons. The good news is that 95 percent of patients don’t need surgery, so you likely won’t need it. 

Call or book an appointment online with Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow today if you have elbow pain. 

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