Treatments for Tennis Elbow
Once your medical professional has diagnosed your condition, they will be able to recommend the most effective treatment for your tennis elbow or golfer's elbow injury. There are a variety of options available depending on the severity of your injury.
During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your elbow area until your pain and inflammation settle. Scar tissue will often develop as a result of a tennis elbow or golfer's elbow injury once acute inflammation begins to decrease. As your damaged arm tissues heal this dead, fibrotic tissue will develop instead of forming brand new healthy tissue. This tissue adheres to your muscle fibers, tendons, ligaments, fascia, nerves, and joints causing pain and preventing them from moving properly (this limits your range of motion, flexibility and strength).
Often you will notice a great improvement within 6 to 12 weeks; however it can take months to return to normal. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results. If you start using your arm before it has a chance to heal properly (even though it may feel better), you can end up doing a lot more damage than good!
Conservative Epicondylitis Treatment
Your initial treatment should involve relieving any pain and stress on your elbow, decreasing any swelling, and correcting any biomechanical dysfunction. Then you can focus on restoring strength and mobility to your injured elbow. It is very important to follow any instructions you receive from your physician.
To decrease inflammation and relieve pain for a chronic or diagnosed tennis elbow injury, adhere to the RCCE philosophy within the first 48 hours:
- Rest your arm and limit your activity (if you are able to move your arm)
- Apply Cold to the area 2-3 times/day for approximately 15 - 20 minutes at a time to reduce blood flow to the injured area.
- Compress the area if possible by adding light pressure to minimize swelling (make sure the compress is snug; if too tight it could cause numbness, tingling or more pain).
- Elevate the injured area above chest level to relieve the pressure from swelling and allow fluid to drain from the injured part.
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy
Help Your Body Heal Itself
You can help your body repair itself by speeding its natural healing process with Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy.
During normal activities, the movement promotes blood flow through our body. Our body responds to the movement by sending oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the muscles, joints, tendons and other soft tissue in the body.
When at rest, the blood flow to your tendons is greatly reduced. Unfortunately, when your tendon is injured it requires rest but it also needs the blood flow to promote the healing process. Since you can't work your tendon without danger of further injury, you need to stimulate the blood flow another way.
The Inferno Wrap® Advantage
Our innovative Elbow Inferno Wrap® gives you the best Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy available.
The Inferno Wrap® creates energy waves that stimulate blood flow by penetrating through the outer layers of your body. The energy waves reach deep into your muscles, tendons and cartilage, reducing your pain as they heal the inner tissue.
An Inferno Wrap®gives you unparalleled blood flow stimulation to your injured tendon. Other therapy products can not come close to offering the comfortable, contoured fit and targeted energy treatment our BFST® wrap provides.
You will experience a soothing, penetrating warmth deep in the tissue as it works to stimulate your blood flow, we guarantee it. Now you can reduce your pain and heal yourself anywhere with the comfortable, light weight Inferno Wrap®.
The Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief with no side effects. You simply won’t find a comparable product on the market.
Pain and Anti-Inflammatory Medication
NSAIDs: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
NSAIDs can be used if required to help manage your pain. However, these aren't recommended for long term use, as they can cause gastrointestinal difficulties.
Some health professionals also recommend natural supplements such as Glucosamine, MSM or Hyaluronic Acid to help strengthen the injured tissue.
The use of ultrasound in conjunction with NSAIDs can greatly improve the effect of this medication and can help to heal your elbow quicker.
Cortisone / Steroid Injections
If pain and inflammation persist, you can see your physician to investigate cortisone / steroid injections or topical medications, which may help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Restoring Your Elbow's Flexibility and Strength
Physical Therapy is a beneficial way to help decrease pain in the soft tissue, restore atrophied muscles and improve elbow, forearm and wrist strength and mobility. The type of physical therapy and the duration will be dependent on the extent of your injury.
Once your pain starts to diminish, a physiotherapist will also set up an individualized arm and shoulder strengthening and stretching exercise program for you to perform at home or in the gym.
This will be based on your needs and abilities, and will help you return to performing your normal routines.
A trained therapist will help to ensure your rehabilitation process is effective. For best, long term results use the Inferno Wrap® before undergoing physical therapy to gain residual elongation and extensibility of collagen tissue (reference: Chapter 9 of "Therapeutic Heat and Cold", 4th edition.
(amazon.com link) Ed. Justus F. Lehmann, M.D., Williams, and Wilkin.)
Once you return to your activities, it is beneficial for you to evaluate how you use your arm in these activities to determine if you can decrease stress on the injured tissue. This may involve changing your technique, for example using a two-handed backhand instead of a one-handed backhand in tennis, which will take stress off your forearm muscles. Or, it could also mean implementing ergonomically correct practices, structures and equipment to help you perform tasks more effectively and safely, such as using a properly weighted racquet, or taking more frequent short breaks at work to rest your wrist when using a hammer or screwdriver.
Speak with a professional in the specific activity or work setting to ensure you are using correct procedures and tools.
When Conservative Treatments Fail
About 85% of people with tennis elbow or golfer's elbow experience pain relief within 12 months of starting their preliminary treatments. A tennis elbow or golfer's elbow injury will usually heal without surgery.
However if you continue to suffer from persistent pain, weakness or recurring inflammation after trying the above conservative treatments, you may require a surgical option. Although rare overall, this is more common in tennis elbow than golfer's elbow.
The type of surgery you require will depend on the size, shape and location of your injury. This will be completed through day surgery; however it will require extensive rehabilitation utilizing the preliminary treatments noted above. Physical therapy and strengthening normally begin about 6 weeks after surgery.
Your surgeon should provide a treatment plan to help you regain normal use as soon as possible. Speak with your physical about using the Elbow Inferno Wrap® and Elbow Freezie Wrap® for reducing your post-surgery recovery period.
Elbow Arthroscopy involves making a small incision on the outside of your elbow and inserting a pencil-thin, fiber optic camera with a small lens and lighting system.
The surgeon will take a look inside your joint to investigate all the soft tissues and bones. These images will then be transmitted to a TV monitor, which allow the doctor to make a diagnosis and/or perform the repair under video control.
Your surgeon may repair tears or remove damaged tissue. He/she may have to cut the tendon at its attachment to the epicondyle bone and remove a small portion of the bone to increase blood flow to the area.
Afterwards, sutures (stitches and/or anchors that hold the tissue together after they have been severed) can be used to attach the tendon to the bone. At the end of surgery, your incisions are closed, a dressing is applied, and you are placed in a splint.
There are always some risks associated with any surgery, which include but are not limited to possible infection, allergic reaction to medications, and damage to surrounding nerves or blood vessels. However, modern techniques have significantly minimized the occurrence of these problems. Tenderness, pain, stiffness and weakness are very common after surgery, but with proper rehabilitation these should diminish.
Although surgery is often successful at repairing any damage and/or relieving pain, it does not necessarily return strength to your elbow or forearm. That is why a strong commitment to rehabilitation is essential. Healing and recovery time is generally dependent on the extent of your injury, your age, pre-injury level of function, and your commitment to rehabilitation. Know that if conservative treatments are the right option for you, then consider dealing with your therapy seriously by incorporating the use of Elbow Inferno Wrap® and Elbow Freezie Wraps®.