How Long Does Tennis Elbow Actually Last?

Tendon injuries take longer to heal than muscle because tendons don’t get as much oxygen and don’t regenerate as quickly.

Symptoms may improve over time with rest, ice and painkillers. Your doctor might recommend wearing a support strap or clasp, such as those sold at chemists and sports shops.

Surgery is usually a last resort and involves removing the damaged part of the tendon. Surgery can help alleviate severe pain and improve strength.

Symptoms

Symptoms of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) begin with pain, tenderness or stiffness on the outside of your elbow. It may feel worse when you grip, lift or twist objects, and it can affect your ability to play tennis or perform other sports. Over time, the pain will increase and spread to your wrist and forearm. The pain may come and go, or it can become constant and lingering.

Your doctor can make the diagnosis by examining your arm and elbow. They will ask you about the pain, when it started and what activities it occurs during. They will also check your arm for signs of swelling or tenderness. X-rays may be taken to rule out other causes of the pain.

If you have persistent pain or your elbow is swollen, your doctor may advise surgery to remove the damaged tendon tissue. This is usually done at an outpatient center and doesn’t require staying in the hospital. Your doctor will make a small cut on the outer part of your elbow. They will then remove the damaged tissue and reattach the normal tendon tissue to your elbow bone.

READ  Understanding Breast Implants and Tummy Tuck Surgery

You will need to rest your arm for a while after surgery. Your doctor will tell you how long to do this and how to avoid re-injuring the tendon. Physical therapy can help strengthen your muscles and tendons to ease the pain and speed up healing.

Causes

Tennis elbow (medically known as lateral epicondylitis) occurs when you use your wrist to twist and bend your arm, especially in repetitive movements. This can cause damage to the tendons in your elbow and forearm. The pain from this condition is usually in the outer area of your elbow, but can be felt anywhere from your wrist to your fingertips. The pain is caused by small tears in the tendon that connects your muscles to your elbow and forearm. The tears may also result in compressed nerves.

Tendon injuries heal slowly, and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can relieve some of the pain. Physical therapy can strengthen the wrist and elbow, including specific exercises that help restore proper movement in the joint. Your therapist can also teach you ways to modify activities that place too much strain on your injured tendon, such as finding a different way to wring out a towel or hold a hammer.

If your pain does not improve with rest and activity modification, or if the symptoms are disabling, surgery may be needed. During surgery, which can be done as an outpatient procedure, the doctor removes the damaged part of the tendon and reattaches it to your bone. They will then use sutures to close the wound. Most people recover from this procedure within six weeks.

READ  From Pain to Progress - The Impact of Physiotherapy on Recovery

Treatment

Your doctor will tell you how long does tennis elbow last. Fortunately most people who get tennis elbow recover within a year. However, the pain can linger for up to two years in about 1 in 5 people. The key to getting rid of tennis elbow is treating the underlying muscles and tendon problems.

Treatment starts with a visit to A Pinch Of Prevention . They will ask you about your symptoms and do a physical exam. They will check how you move your arm and wrist in different positions to see if certain movements trigger pain. They may also order an MRI or x-rays to look at the structures in your elbow and neck for damage.

Your doctor will recommend resting the affected area for several weeks. Ice packs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Physical therapy under the guidance of a physical therapist can help strengthen the wrist and elbow muscles. You might be given a brace to decrease pressure on the tendons. Other treatments might include steroid injections into the painful area or shock wave therapy, which uses sound waves to stimulate your body’s natural healing process.

It’s important to avoid activities that aggravate the condition. Talk to your doctor about modifying your job or sports training routine so that you don’t overdo it. For example, if you play tennis, try to schedule your games so that you have time for warm up and recovery between sessions. Similarly, if you are doing a chore around the house, such as painting, take breaks to give your arms and hands a break.

READ  Understanding Breast Implants and Tummy Tuck Surgery

Prevention

Many people with tennis elbow can get better just by resting, icing the elbow and not engaging in activities that cause it. For others, over-the-counter pain medications can help. If OTC medications don’t work, a doctor may prescribe stronger NSAIDs or steroid injections. These are typically only used in severe cases.

When a person gets tennis elbow, it’s usually caused by over-stressing or over-using the tendons in the area of the injury. This can be from repetitive actions such as swinging a tennis racket, using a screwdriver or typing. Non-tennis activities that can also lead to the condition include painting, playing softball or heavy lifting.

The symptoms of tennis elbow are a dull pain on the outside of the elbow that hurts when twisting or bending the arm (like opening a jar, turning a doorknob or holding onto a pen). It can also feel like you have a weakened grip. The pain is typically worst in the morning or at the start of an activity/sport and then gets better as the arm warms up.

To diagnose the condition, a doctor will review a patient’s symptoms and medical history. They will then perform a physical exam to check for tenderness in the forearm muscles. They might also order imaging tests, such as X-rays, ultrasound or an MRI to evaluate the severity of the tendon damage and look for other conditions such as arthritis or a broken bone. They may also order an electromyography (EMG) test to check for nerve compression.