Treatment Options of a Tennis Elbow

Updated at: Jan 21, 2013
Treatment Options of a Tennis Elbow

Treatment options for tennis elbow include non-surgical treatment and surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatment for tennis elbow includes rest, pain relieving medicines, corticosteroid injections, physiotherapy, and shock wave therapy. Surgery is

Dr Poonam Sachdev
MiscellaneousWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Sep 14, 2012

Treatment of tennis elbow aims to improve symptoms and prevent further injury.Treatment options for tennis elbow include:

  • non-surgical treatment
  • surgical treatment.


[Read: Symptoms of Tennis Elbow]


Non-surgical treatments

Non-surgical treatment for tennis elbow includes rest, pain relieving medicines, corticosteroid injections, physiotherapy, and shock wave therapy.

Rest: Giving adequate rest to the elbow and arm and avoiding activities that strain the tendons decreases pain and speeds up healing.

Pain relieving medications: Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are commonly used analgesics for relieving pain. They are generally used for treatment of mild to moderate pain. The advantage of this group includes that they are not addictive and their pain-relieving effect does not decrease significantly over time. The NSAIDs have good anti-inflammatory effect and hence are effective in relieving pain associated with inflammation such as pain of arthritis, tendonitis and tennis elbow. Some of the commonly used NSAIDs include ibuprofen, ketoprofen, piroxicam and aspirin. Prolonged use of NSAIDs at high dose can cause side effects such as digestive upset, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Other side effects of NSAIDs include increase blood pressure, worsening of asthma and decrease in ability of blood to clot. Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years as it can lead to potentially fatal liver disorder known as Reye’s syndrome. [Read: How to Prevent High Blood Pressure]

Some anti-inflammatory painkillers are available as topical preparations in form of as creams and gels. These are meant to be applied directly to the affected part of the body, such as your forearm or elbow. Use of topical preparations is preferred over oral medications as they do not cause the side effects associated with oral NSAIDs.

Corticosteroid injections: Use of corticosteroid injection in tennis elbow is reserved for people with particularly painful tennis elbow that is making movement difficult. The medication is injected directly into the painful area around the elbow. Corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory effect and hence are effective in relieving pain. However repeated injection can cause serious side-effects. Hence, repeated use of corticosteroid injection in tennis elbow is avoided.

People with severe and recurrent symptoms may be referred to a physiotherapist. The physiotherapist will teach exercises which are known to improve healing and increase the strength of the muscles of the forearm. If needed the patient will be advised to wear a splint to prevent further injury due to movement and strain, and help healing. [Read: Natural remedies for Pain Relief]

Shock wave therapy:
In this treatment high-energy sound waves used to heal the elbow, relieve the pain and improve mobility (movement). The high-energy sound waves are applied over the affected area.  It may be given once or repeatedly depending on the severity of pain.


Surgery is considered as an option for treatment after non-surgical methods fail to control pain. It is advised to those who report severe or persistent tennis elbow. Surgery aims to relieve the pain by removing the damaged part of the tendon.


Read more articles on Tennis Elbow Lateral Epicondylitis.




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