A period of stretching of the forearm muscles prior to partaking in sport will greatly help in preventing the condition.
Most tennis elbows will respond to simple treatment. The treatment is aimed at relief of pain and inflammation followed by the promotion of healing.
Initial treatment includes rest, splinting of the wrist and anti-inflammatory medication. Physiotherapy is extremely important with stretching followed by strengthening of the forearm and hand muscles.
If it does not respond to these measures then an injection with local anaesthetic and steroid can give dramatic relief and a cure. Once the local anaesthetic wears off then there may be quite severe discomfort in the elbow for a day and you may need to take pain killers and anti-inflammatoires. The cortisone takes approximately 24 to 48 hours to work. A number of steroid injections may be required over a period of time to effect a cure.
Other substances have also been injected; simply blood taken from the patient or plasma enriched with platelets (PEP). This is obtained from the patient’s blood sample which is spun down in a centrifuge to separate the platelet enriched plasma layer. Recent reports have shown that this PEP injection lasts longer than a cortisone injection. This PEP injection however is far more costly than a cortisone injection.
A support band or counterforce brace around the forearm muscles may be worn when partaking activities or sport. This compresses the muscle and takes some of the force off the tendon; it also absorbs vibration protecting the tendon at it’s insertion onto the bone.
Changing or adjusting sports equipment may be necessary (i.e. racquet handle size, racquet weight and string tension) and even changing playing technique. These measures may help in preventing the condition from recurring.
The above non-operative methods of treatment will result in cure rates of 85%-95%. The majority of tennis elbows will settle down within a year of the onset of symptoms.
Surgery is indicated when there is persisting pain, which is debilitating in spite of a well-managed non-operative programme which has been tried for at least 6 months if not a year.