Tennis elbow is a common musculoskeletal condition where the tendons that join your forearm muscles to the outside of your elbow are inflamed causing pain and tenderness.
What is a tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is a repetitive strain injury where an inflamed tendon causes pain around the outside of your elbow.
It is caused by overusing your forearm muscles and tendons and those around your elbow joint often whilst performing every day activities.
Typically, tennis elbow causes recurring pain around the outside of your elbow and may also be felt further down the arm, towards your wrist.Pain can occur when you:
- or bend your arm
- write or grip small objects
- twist your forearm, for example when turning a door handle.
You may also find it difficult to fully extend your arm.
Tendons heal slowly and tennis elbow can take several weeks, months or sometimes over a year to get better.
What is tennis elbow caused by?
Tennis elbow is caused by repetitively overusing a muscle or tendon in your forearm, often with incorrect wrist action. The strained muscle and/or tendon sustains small tears and inflammation develops near the bony lump on the outside of your elbow.
Tennis elbow can also happen after banging or knocking your elbow.
Tennis elbow can develop by performing any activity that involves repeatedly using your forearm muscles and twisting your wrist. So, although the name suggests it is not just playing racquet sports that can cause tennis elbow. Using garden shears, painting a room, plumbing, typing and computer work, and playing an instrument such as the violin can also lead to tennis elbow.
What does a tennis elbow treatment involve?
To recover from tennis elbow you need to rest your arm and avoid the activities that make it worse to give your tendon time to heal. Ice packs and massaging your arm may also help.
There are some tennis elbow treatments to help reduce pain and speed-up your recovery including:
- Taking painkillers/non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by tennis elbow.
- Physiotherapy – if your tennis elbow is causing more severe or persistent pain. Your physiotherapist may show you exercises to do daily at home to keep your arm mobile and to strengthen your forearm muscles. They may also use manual therapy including massage and manipulation to help relieve your pain and stiffness whilst encouraging blood flow to your arm. A physiotherapist may also advise you to use a brace, strapping, a support bandage or a splint.
- Steroid injections – may be offered if other treatments haven’t worked to provide short-term relief from tennis elbow pain and inflammation. An injection is made directly into your painful elbow. You may be given a local anaesthetic first. You may be offered up to three injections in the same area, with at least a three to six-month gap between them.
- Shockwave therapy – is a non-invasive treatment that passes high-energy shockwaves through your skin to help relieve pain and promote movement in the affected area. You may have a local anaesthetic first. The number of sessions needed will depend on your pain. It is a safe treatment that can help improve the pain of tennis elbow in some cases.
- PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections – a newer 15-minute treatment that speeds up the healing process in some people. Blood plasma containing concentrated healing platelets, that your body uses to repair damaged tissue, are injected into the affected area.
- Tennis elbow release surgery – may be recommended if other treatments haven’t worked and you have severe or persistent pain. It is increasingly performed under local anaesthetic and takes up to 30 minutes. Your surgeon will make a cut along your arm near your elbow and use a technique based on your individual situation. They may cut the tendon, repair or reattach any tears in the tendon, or remove tissue or bone spurs. The wound will be closed, your arm put in a sling and you can go home the same day with some pain relief.
How to recover from a tennis elbow treatment
You will be able to go home the same day after all tennis elbow treatments and rest your arm.
Following tennis elbow release surgery, you will not be able to drive for at least one week. You can expect to take a couple of weeks off work and longer if you do a heavy manual job. .
Physiotherapy is an important part of your recovery after surgery. Your physiotherapist will advise you on a programme of gentle exercises. .
It can be four to six months before you can return to any sport activities after tennis elbow surgery.
What is the cost of a tennis elbow treatment?
The cost of a tennis elbow treatment will depend on the treatment recommended for you. After your consultation appointment with one of our elbow surgeons, we will provide you with an all-inclusive Total Care price.
Your private medical insurance may cover the cost of your tennis elbow treatment. You should obtain written confirmation from your insurance provider that they will cover your treatment before you commence it.
Tennis elbow with West Valley Hospital
Here at West Valley Hospital we offer a comprehensive treatment service for tennis elbow. Our highly experienced orthopaedic surgeons will assess your tennis elbow and offer you treatment options in line with your needs and pain levels.
We understand how frustrating tennis elbow can be and having to rest from the activities you love. Our teams of experts offer the best care for your tennis elbow to relieve your pain and help you recover as quickly as possible.
Contact us to book an appointment!