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Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow mostly resolves without surgery

Up to 90% of tennis elbow resolves without surgery. Recommended treatment often includes activity-modification, physiotherapy, injections or shockwave therapy.

Conservative treatment methods

  • Activity-modification and physiotherapy

  • Injections

  • Shockwave therapy

Activity-modification and physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is usually first-line treatment in managing tennis elbow. Avoiding repetitive and painful movements or modifying activities to use other muscle groups will provide symptom relief. Physiotherapy exercises for tennis elbow aim to combine stretching exercises with exercises to strengthen the extensor muscles. This is usually effective in the long-term.

Injections

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) can be injected into the affected site. PRP is extracted from your own blood and processed to obtain a concentrated solution of platelets containing growth factors to help the tendons heal. This aims to provide a long-term solution and there is some evidence that PRP injections achieve this aim. Alternatively, injecting a steroid locally into the affected area might provide short-term pain relief. Up to three injections can be given but recent scientific works have suggested the possibility that this technique might increase the duration of the disease.

Shockwave therapy

A machine delivers sound waves into the affected area. Reported rates of success are extremely variable and therapy can sometimes be considered an experimental or research treatment. However, whilst we cannot guarantee that it will work, we do know, it is very safe.

Tennis elbow surgery

Surgery for tennis elbow is usually performed as a day-case and can be open or keyhole. The operation is usually very successful with 90% of patients improving significantly. Rare complications of surgery include infection, nerve or blood vessel damage, weakness, stiffness, growth of islands of bone, prolonged rehabilitation and further surgery.

Surgical treatment methods

  • Tennis elbow surgery