Tennis elbow is an injury to the tendons and muscles that allow your elbow to flex and straighten. You can develop tennis elbow by straining or overusing the elbow joint through such activities as:
- Playing tennis
- Swinging a bat
- Playing musical instruments
- Chopping and cutting while cooking
About 3% of women, men, and children develop tennis elbow, but most of them don’t actually play tennis. However, it’s common for professional athletes who play racquet sports or baseball to develop the condition. You might have tennis elbow if you notice symptoms such as:
- Pain or tenderness on the outer elbow
- Difficulty straightening or flexing elbow
- Weakened grip
- Dropping things
- Pain in forearm or wrist
At Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine — with locations in Houston and Baytown, Texas — we offer a variety of treatments for tennis elbow and help you prevent recurrences. Our founder, David Lintner, MD, is the team physician for the Houston Astros and Houston Texans and an expert in treating tennis elbow at all levels of severity.
If you’re having trouble or pain while using your elbow, wrist, or grip, the following are five effective treatments for tennis elbow.
1. Bracing and resting
Stabilizing and demobilizing your forearm and elbow with a brace allows your tendons and muscles to repair over time. Dr. Lintner may recommend adopting the RICE protocol too, which stands for:
- Rest (refrain from sports or work with that arm)
- Ice (with a wrapped ice pack)
- Compression (with a bandage or brace)
- Elevate (keep elbow above the heart)
Minor tennis elbow injuries may respond to bracing and rest alone.
2. Physical therapy
If you’re an athlete, musician, or another professional who must use your arm forcefully and in repetitive movements, you may need physical therapy to both help you recover from your present injury and prevent further injury. Our team prescribes exercises that strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your fingers, wrist, forearm, and elbow.
Strengthening the supportive tissues surrounding your elbow joint makes them more resistant to injury. Our team may also evaluate the movements you use in your game or profession and make modifications to reduce the chance of injury. We may also examine your sporting equipment or tools and recommend modifications to those, too.
Part of the pain of tennis elbow occurs when your injured tendons and other tissues become inflamed and press on nerves. Dr. Lintner may recommend medications that reduce inflammation and control pain. You can take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen.
For more intense pain and swelling, Dr. Lintner may inject corticosteroids directly into the injured tissues. Steroid injections provide long-term relief from pain and swelling.
4. Orthobiologic treatments
We offer orthobiologic treatments that Dr. Lintner injects directly into your injured tendons and surrounding areas to help your body repair and rebuild your tissues. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cells have been used by pro athletes for years to accelerate healing.
As a sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lintner has extensive experience using minimally invasive or open surgery to repair torn or damaged tendons. If you’re a candidate for restorative surgery, he also recommends PT to help you recover your strength and range of motion.
If you have tennis elbow or lower arm pain, call our office nearest you today for a consultation in Houston or Baytown, Texas.