Tennis elbow

  • Alternative Names

    Epitrochlear bursitis; Lateral epicondylitis; Epicondylitis - lateral


    Treatment

    The first step is to rest your arm and avoid the activity that causes your symptoms for at least 2 - 3 weeks. You may also want to:

    • Put ice on the outside of your elbow 2 - 3 times a day.
    • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin).

    If your tennis elbow is due to sports activity, you may want to:

    • Ask about any changes you can make in your technique.
    • Check any sports equipment you're using to see if any changes may help.
    • Think about how often you have been playing and whether you should cut back.

    If your symptoms are related to working on the comptuer, ask your boss about making changes.

    An occupational therapist can show you exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your forearm.

    You can buy a special brace for tennis elbow at most drug stores. It wraps around the first part of your forearm and takes some of the pressure off the muscles.

    Your doctor may also inject cortisone and a numbing medicine around the area where the tendon attaches to the bone. This may help decrease the swelling and pain.

    If the pain continues after 6 - 12 months of rest and treatment, surgery may be recommended. Talk with your orthopedic surgeon about the risks, and whether surgery might help.


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most people improve with nonsurgical treatment. The majority of those who do have surgery show an improvement in symptoms.


    Complications
    • Failure to improve with nonsurgical or surgical treatment. This may be due to nerve entrapment in the forearm
    • Recurrence of the injury with overuse
    • Rupture of the tendon with repeated steroid injections

    Calling your health care provider

    Apply home treatment (over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and keeping the elbow still) if:

    • Symptoms are mild
    • You have had this disorder before and you are sure you have tennis elbow

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

    • This is the first time you have had these symptoms
    • Home treatment does not relieve the symptoms