About 1-3% of adults develop tennis elbow every year. Approximately half of all tennis players eventually develop tennis elbow, but any athlete or worker who uses heavy tools or must lift and grasp continually is at risk.
Tennis elbow develops in the tendons on the outside of your elbow. Usually, it affects your dominant arm. That can make playing your sport, doing your job, and even accomplishing daily tasks difficult and painful.
At Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, in Baytown and Houston, Texas, our sports medicine specialist David Lintner, MD, diagnoses and treats tennis elbow. Although he’s an expert at repairing tennis elbow with surgery, he recommends nonsurgical treatment and therapy whenever possible.
If you’re experiencing hand numbness, weak grip, or pain and tingling of tennis elbow, take care of it right away. The following are some guidelines for nonsurgical treatment.
Rest your arm
If you have tennis elbow, you need to take a break from the activities that caused it. Your tendons are inflamed and possibly stretched and need to heal before you stress them again.
Start with the RICE protocol: Rest your elbow and arm, Ice the painful areas several times a day, Compress the joint with an elastic bandage, and Elevate your arm whenever possible.
Support and compress your tendons
You may benefit from an elbow brace to compress your arm at the elbow joint. A brace also puts pressure on the tendons, which helps support them when you use your arm.
Dr. Lintner selects the correct type and size of brace for your needs. If you must play your sport and you’re not at risk for severe injury, he shows you how to use the brace to support your tendons while in play.
Turn down the swelling and pain
You could benefit from anti-inflammatory medications that help control pain. Steroid injections may allow you to return to pain-free play, too.
Over-the-counter options often work to manage discomfort. Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) relieve pain at the site and oral NSAIDs may also keep you comfortable and help relieve swelling.
Get help with PT
Physical therapy (PT) strengthens the muscles in your arm so you’re less likely to experience strains or sprains. Our team analyzes how you move your arm during your job or sport to spot problem areas and make adjustments.
Most PT regimens emphasize stretching and strengthening. You may perform the exercises with weights and without. Try to incorporate many of the PT exercises into your warm-up and cool-down routines after your tennis elbow has healed to prevent recurrences.
As part of your PT, bring in the athletic equipment you use. A racquet or club that’s too heavy might be partly responsible for your injury.
When you’ve injured yourself, your body works hard to repair and rebuild the damaged tissues. Orthobiologic therapies give your body the tools it needs to heal faster.
At Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, we offer orthobiologic therapies, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). With PRP, we withdraw a small portion of your blood and concentrate the healing platelets. Next, we inject them directly into your injury.
The extra platelets help your body build new blood vessels to nourish the injury site. They also provide growth factors and proteins for tissue remodeling. An injection of MSCs also provides your body with the building blocks of healing.
Treat your tennis elbow by contacting our office nearest you by phone or online form. Early treatment helps you heal and prevent a recurrence.