Stubborn Tennis Elbow? Here Are Your Treatment Options
Tennis elbow is a pain and stiffness in the outside of the elbow where it meets your forearm. It's usually brought on by repetitive motions, such as hitting a tennis ball or swinging a golf club. If you catch the condition early and take some time off, the pain may go away on its own. But if you have a stubborn case that lingers for a week or more, you'll want to take action with the treatment advice below.
Ice and NSAIDs
The first thing you may want to try is icing the sore area. Apply the ice over a thin towel or linen so that it does not irritate your skin. Hold it in place for about 20 minutes. Repeat the ice therapy two or three times per day. If the pain remains an annoyance, take an NSAID like ibuprofen or naproxen. This won't just relieve the pain -- it will also reduce the inflammation, which will help the injury heal. Just take the medication according to the instructions on the package.
If, after a few days or ice and NSAIDs, you are still in pain, then it's probably time to see a physical therapist. They can prescribe some exercises to help stretch out the strained tissues in your elbow, and also to strengthen the muscles in your forearm. These strengthening exercises will help prevent future injuries, too. Some exercises will be performed at home, and others in the physical therapist's office.
The next step, which is sometimes combined with physical therapy, is cortisone injections. Cortisone is a steroid that will help speed your body's healing process and alleviate inflammation. Your orthopedic doctor can inject it directly into your elbow. The injection is a bit painful, but it is effective for most patients.
The vast majority of cases resolve with ice therapy, NSAIDs, physical therapy, cortisone injections, or a combination of these treatments. However, in very rare cases, the tendon may separate from the muscles, and surgery may be required to reattach it. This procedure can often be performed through small incisions, which reduces the healing time. You should be able to slowly return to normal activities over a period of about 3 months. During this time, you will work with a physical therapist to assist in your recovery.
If you've been dealing with tennis elbow, do not panic. With rest and some conservative treatment, there's a very good chance you'll be fully recovered within a few weeks. And if not, orthopedic surgeons are there to help. Visit a site like http://www.superior-orthopedics.com/ for more.