Managing Tennis Elbow Pain
According to Jason Rogers, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Greensboro and member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff, tennis elbow is not just a sports injury.
Caused by overuse or repetitive motion of muscles attached to the outside of the elbow, tennis elbow most often affects people in their thirties to fifties.
“Most associate tennis elbow with extending your wrist during a backhand position,” says Dr. Rogers. “However, it can be caused by any similar repeated motion that strains forearm muscles attached to the elbow.”
“Most with tennis elbow experience searing pain on the outside half of the elbow,” he continues. “The pain can increase when you extend your wrist even during daily activities like brushing your teeth.”
Typically, tennis elbow comes on suddenly, and it tends to strike your dominant arm. Family history does not make you more likely to develop the condition. Also, certain stretches before exercising can help with prevention.
“The good news is most cases of tennis elbow can be treated at home or after visiting with your doctor,” adds Dr. Rogers. “Once you develop tennis elbow, you are not more likely to get it again.”
If you start to experience tennis elbow pain, rest is best. Ice your elbow for half an hour three to four times a day. After consulting with your doctor, you may consider over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications for pain and swelling.
If your pain does not improve, make a doctor’s appointment for a physical exam. An X-ray can rule out arthritis and help confirm your diagnosis.
“After an office visit, you may be prescribed a brace, specific stretches, occupational or physical therapy or even given an option for a steroid injection,” shares Dr. Rogers. “The good news is most people recover, and surgery is rarely needed.”