After your medical team has confirmed the diagnosis by obtaining a medical history, physical exam, and possibly imaging (X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI), they will create a plan to help treat your symptoms and get you back to the activities you desire. Initial treatment often focuses on rest to avoid activities that cause pain, ice, and certain medications. Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) are often used.
There are several procedures or therapies that can be used to treat tennis elbow. Ultrasound machines frequently are employed to diagnose or assist with procedures to treat tennis elbow. Injections and procedures that have recently shown potential to help treat tennis elbow include platelet-rich plasma injections, botulinum toxin injections, shock wave therapy, and others. Corticosteroid injections are not routinely recommended as research has shown no significant long-term improvement with this treatment. Working with a physical therapist to stretch, strengthen, and provide education is key to successful treatment. If recommended by your sports medicine team, the use of a counterforce brace on your forearm can assist with pain control and recovery as well.
Surgery is rarely required to treat tennis elbow and typically only considered if the above treatments have failed over several months. A less invasive procedure called TENEX can be used to manage pain and remove damaged tissue if recommended by your healthcare team. The majority of patients will respond to the less invasive treatments and are able to fully return to their desired activities over time.