Recovery time I Home treatment I Physiotherapy and Exercises I Other Treatment options
Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, which means it may eventually get better without treatment. Tennis elbow will however mean swelling, pain and limited use of the affected arm, which may need treatment and management of pain. Early treatment can be done simply by self care at home.
Recovery time: Tennis elbow will often last between six months and two years. The majority of people (90%) will make a full recovery within a year.
You could follow one or more of the following treatment options to deal with pain due to Tennis elbow and improve use of the affected arm.
A) Treatment at home for immediate pain relief
- Rest: The most important thing you can do is rest your injured arm and stop doing the activity that caused the problem
- Ice: Apply ice or a cold pack for 15 minutes three to four times a day. Read more to learn about RICE protocol.
- Bracing or Elbow support (Read here to know more about braces, bands and straps for Tennis Elbow )
- Avoid heavy weight lifting
- Avoid twisting movements and turning activities of wrist or forearm
- Modifying activities involving painful movements so they do not place strain on your arm and make the pain worse.
General tips: Avoid making the same hand and arm movements over and over. If that's not an option for you, wear a brace and take breaks as often as you can. Some other tips:
- Learn to use your shoulder and upper arm muscles to take the strain off your elbow.
- Stick to the middle of your range of motion - avoid bending or straightening your arm all the way.
- Warm up and stretch before sports and other activities where you repeat the same motions with your arm.
B) Manage Inflammation With A Healthy Diet
To help keep inflammation levels low, avoid processed foods including: added sugar, high-sodium foods (which increase water retention), foods high in saturated and refined fats, alcohol and processed grains (especially gluten-containing foods).
Anti-inflammatory foods that help your body repair damaged tissue include:
- All types of vegetables, especially green leafy greens
- High-quality “clean” proteins like wild-caught fish, raw dairy, cage-free eggs or grass-fed beef
- Berries, citrus fruits, melon and pineapple
- High-potassium and magnesium foods, including coconut water, avocados, greens, sweet potatoes and bananas
- Bone broth, which contains collagen to improve tissue health
C) See a doctor / General Physician
If your symptoms do not improve, you may consider visiting your doctor who would:
- Check for swelling and tenderness, and carry out some simple tests, such as asking you to extend your fingers and flex your wrist with your elbow extended.
- Prescribe medication to bring down the swelling and reduce pain.
Physiotherapy is very beneficial in more severe and persistent cases (ie. early acute stage) but most of the patients think that pain will go away and seek the help only when it becomes constant or functionally restricting. Objectives of physiotherapy are to reduce pain, retard muscle atrophy, increase flexibility, increase muscle strength, increase motor endurance, and facilitate early return to sports.
What to expect in physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow pain?
Initial management of this condition in Physiotherapy is through pain relieving techniques such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation, stretching tight nerves and muscles, dry needling, heat and/or cold therapy and taping. A physiotherapist will assess your arm condition and use a combination of treatments, some of which are:
- Soft Tissue Massage: A massage therapist can use a range of techniques to release soft tissue, break down tension and realign the fibres. These techniques include myofascial release and transverse friction techniques.
- Joint mobilisation: This management may include massage around the problem area or gently mobilising the joints of your neck, elbow and wrist.
- Stretching: As soon as your pain allows, start stretching the area. Extension exercises of the wrist will be the most important stretches you can do to improve your range of motion and to increase the amount of load on the tendon.
- Hot/Cold therapy: Apply ice to the elbow regularly to reduce the pain and inflammation will be a good start, particularly at the early onset of pain.
- Kinesio Taping: Kinesio taping or K-taping may help decrease the pain and can reduce the likelihood of injury aggravation.
- Dry Needling: Dry needling is a technique that is fast gaining appreciation within the physiotherapy world, with many practitioners now trained in the use of acupuncture needles to assist with their client’s pain and rehabilitation. The insertion of needles at varying lengths and points are thought to alter the way pain signals are transmitted by nerve pathways.
E) Invasive treatments
- Your doctor might suggest injecting platelet-rich plasma, Botox or some form of irritant (prolotherapy) into the painful tendon.
- 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, surgery may be used as a last resort to remove the damaged part of the tendon.
At ReLiva, we want you to get back to participating in the activities you enjoy as fast as possible. Get relief. Call +91 992099 1584 to speak to us today so we can connect you with a physiotherapy specialist in your area.