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Tennis Elbow

Intro

Tennis elbow does not usually lead to serious problems. If the condition continues and is left untreated, however, loss of motion or loss of function of the elbow and forearm can develop.

Call your doctor if the following conditions develop:

  • Pain that limits your daily activity
  • Pain that lasts despite ice, resting, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  • Any weakness or numbness in the hand, which may mean you have another type of injury in the wrist or elbow
Self-Care at Home

Ice the area twice a day for 20 minutes to help to decrease inflammation and relieve pain. Freezing water in a paper cup and tearing away the top rim as the ice melts is an easy way to use ice. Do not put ice directly on the skin. Wrap it in a towel.

Rest the sore area to prevent further injury and decrease pain.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), aspirin, or naproxen (Aleve) may help decrease the pain and help the healing  .

Follow-up

Continue the treatment plan for the prescribed length of time. Ending a treatment plan too early increases the chance of reinjury to the tendon.

If, after a period of relief, your pain comes back, return to a treatment plan or revisit your doctor.

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Prevention
  • For tennis players:
    • Adjust racquet size: Use a midsized racquet. The popular oversized racquets can put too much strain on the arm and increase the risk of injury.
    • Loosen string tension: Higher string tension can increase the torque and vibration the arm experiences, thereby increasing the risk of injury.
    • Adjust grip size: A grip too small or too large decreases your control of the racquet and increases your risk of injury.
    • Check racquet material: Graphite racquets and nylon strings seem to decrease the torque and vibration the arm receives, thus reducing the risk of injury.
  • Overall:
    • Ease into any repetitive motion activity around the house and at work and rest at the first sign of pain or soreness.
    • Continue exercises for strength and flexibility even after your pain has gone away before engaging in tennis or other repetitive motion activities.
Outlook

About 85% of people have pain relief within 12 months of conservative therapy (ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications).

Those who do not get relief with conservative therapy go on to other treatments, also with very high effectiveness.

Failure to follow through on a therapy plan leads to a 70% chance of recurrence.

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