What are the symptoms of Tennis elbow?
The pain associated with Tennis elbow typically begin as a mild ache and progressively worsen with time. Individuals with suspected Tennis elbow frequently report pain localized over the lateral epicondyle on the outside of the elbow. Some other common complaints of Tennis elbow include:
- A constant dull ache on the outside of the affected elbow
- Pain that may radiate into the upper arm or into the forearm
- A weak grip that makes it difficult to hold a cup of coffee or turn a doorknob
How is Tennis elbow diagnosed?
Dr. Patel will begin by gathering a comprehensive medical history that includes any previous elbow injuries, underlying medical conditions that may contribute to Tennis elbow, work or sports-related activities, and current symptoms. This medical interview will be followed by a physical examination with specific testing such as straightening the fingers and wrist against resistance and palpating the lateral epicondyle of the affected elbow for any pain and tenderness. Diagnostic imaging studies, such as x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be performed to evaluate the surrounding elbow structures for any damage. Nerve conduction studies and electromyography (EMG) may be requested by Dr. Patel to rule out nerve compression for patients with symptomatic nerve damage.
What is the treatment for Tennis elbow?
The majority of patients with Tennis elbow frequently respond well to conservative therapies alone. There are a number of non-invasive treatment options available for patients with Tennis elbow, including:
- A specialized brace can be situated over the forearm muscles to help the muscles and tendons adequately rest to allow the injury to properly heal.
- Modifying or limiting activity with a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation can substantially relieve symptoms during the healing process.
- The pain and inflammation associated with Tennis elbow can be alleviated with over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).
- Corticosteroid Injection. If the pain and inflammation still persist with oral medications, a corticosteroid injection can be administered.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). A newer alternative treatment option involves administering a highly concentrated mixture of the patient’s own platelets directly into the injury site.
- Physical Therapy. Participation in a physical therapy program can strengthen the forearm muscles and tendons to prevent further damage to the elbow.
Patients that experience persistent and severe elbow pain or fail to respond to initial conservative therapies may require surgical intervention. Dr. Patel can repair the damaged tendons by surgical methods. Open surgery is preferred, where this standard treatment method involves a small incision over the lateral epicondyle and specialized surgical instruments are used to repair and reattach the tendon back to the lateral epicondyle after debridement of abnormal tissue. To determine the appropriate surgical approach, Dr. Patel will review the patient’s age, activity level, medical history, and desired recovery goals.