What to do when it might be tennis elbow
If you’ve ever had pain in your elbow, you know how difficult it can be to do simple activities such as lifting a cup of coffee or opening a door. David Fulton, MD, explained how to know if it’s tennis elbow and what you can do about it.
Dr. Fulton said tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an extremely common condition that is most often seen in middle-aged people. “It is typically associated with sharp pain over the outside of the elbow and forearm which is exacerbated with grasping and lifting. The pain can be quite excruciating and inhibit your quality of life.” Either the dominant or nondominant arm can be affected, and only about 10% of the people who develop tennis elbow actually play tennis.
Dr. Fulton said despite the discomfort it produces, the good news is that it often has a favorable prognosis and gradually becomes better with time. “The typical case of tennis elbow may last 6–12 months, but eventually will resolve.”
Below are some home treatments Dr. Fulton recommended.
- Ice the outside area of the tender elbow
- Do forearm and wrist stretching exercises
- Take over-the-counter analgesics like acetaminophen or anti-inflammatories
“If you have hobbies or work requirements that drastically make the symptoms worse, these activities may have to be modified for a period of time,” he added.
Dr. Fulton said it’s unusual for tennis elbow to require surgery. “If your elbow pain does not improve over a reasonable period of time, you may want to seek medical treatment to get further evaluation of the condition.”
If you’re concerned about your elbow pain, talk to your doctor.
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