Tennis elbow often gets better on its own. But if over-the-counter pain medications and other self-care measures aren't helping, your doctor may suggest physical therapy. Severe cases of tennis elbow may require surgery.
If your symptoms are related to tennis, your doctor may suggest that experts evaluate your tennis technique or the movements involved with your job tasks to determine the best steps to reduce stress on your injured tissue.
A physical therapist can teach you exercises to gradually stretch and strengthen your muscles, especially the muscles of your forearm. Eccentric exercises, which involve lowering your wrist very slowly after raising it, are particularly helpful. A forearm strap or brace may reduce stress on the injured tissue.
Surgical or other procedures
- Injections. Your doctor might suggest injecting platelet-rich plasma, Botox or some form of irritant (prolotherapy) into the painful tendon. Dry needling — in which a needle pierces the damaged tendon in many places — can also be helpful.
- Ultrasonic tenotomy (TENEX procedure). In this procedure, under ultrasound guidance, a doctor inserts a special needle through your skin and into the damaged portion of the tendon. Ultrasonic energy vibrates the needle so swiftly that the damaged tissue liquefies and can be suctioned out.
- Surgery. If your symptoms haven't improved after six to 12 months of extensive non-operative treatment, you may be a candidate for surgery to remove damaged tissue. These types of procedures can be performed through a large incision or through several small incisions. Rehabilitation exercises are crucial to recovery.
Aug. 02, 2017
- DeLee JC, et al. Elbow tendinopathies and bursitis. In: DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 4, 2016.
- AskMayoExpert. Lateral elbow tendinopathy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Tennis elbow (Lateral epicondylitis). American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00068. Accessed April 4, 2016.
- Jayanthi N. Epicondylitis (tennis and golf elbow). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2016.
- Ferri FF. Epicondylitis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 14, 2016.
- Barnes DE. Percutaneous ultrasonic tenotomy for chronic elbow tendinosis: A prospective study. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. 2015;24:67.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 13, 2016.
- Coombes BK, et al. Effect of corticosteroid injection, physiotherapy, or both on clinical outcomes in patients with unilateral lateral epicondylalgia: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2013;309:461.
- Gosens T, et al. Ongoing positive effect of platelet-rich plasma versus corticosteroid injection in lateral epicondylitis: A double-blind randomized controlled trial with 2-year follow-up. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2011;39:1200.
- Brown AY. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 9, 2015.