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Lateral Epicondylitis

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by LaRusso L

(Tennis Elbow)



Treatment includes:


Avoid activities that cause pain. Do not play sports or do repetitive motions until the pain is gone. You may need to alter how you do certain activities:
  • When lifting objects, lift with your palms up.
  • Consult a sports professional to check your form when playing tennis or golf


Ice may help decrease some discomfort and swelling. Apply ice pack to the outside of the elbow for 15-20 minutes. Repeat for about four times a day for several days. Do not apply ice directly to your skin. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel.


You may be referred to a physical therapist. You will learn exercises that may help reduce your symptoms.


The following medication may help reduce swelling in the tendon and pain:
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Topical pain medicines (eg, creams, patches) applied to the skin
If medication does not decrease your pain, do not return to physical activity. Check with your doctor.


Certain injuries may require a brace. It is placed on your forearm. This brace limits the force of your forearm muscles on the tendon.

Cortisone Injection

The doctor may inject cortisone into the tendon. This may help to reduce pain and inflammation in the short term. Unfortunately the injection may not help in the long run.

When You Are Ready to Return to Exercise

  • Heat may be helpful when you are ready to return to physical activity. It can decrease the stiffness in the muscle or tendon.
  • Start gentle stretching of the wrist and elbow. Follow your doctor's recommendations. Do not push the stretch to the point of pain. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat six times.
  • Try strengthening exercises for your forearm muscles. Follow your doctor's recommendations.
  • Gradually return to your sport. Talk to a sports professional to adjust your technique, if needed.


To reduce your risk of getting tennis elbow:
  • Keep your arm muscles strong . This will decrease the stress on the tendons.
  • After a short warm-up period, stretch out your arm muscles.
  • Learn the proper technique for activities that require forearm motion.
  • If you play tennis, ask a tennis specialist to check your:
    • Technique for hitting the ball, especially your backhand
    • Racket size, tension of racket strings, and composition of the racquet frame


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine



Health Canada

Healthy U



American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: . Updated September 2009. Accessed November 7, 2012.

Józsa LG, Kannus P. Human Tendons. Human Kinetics; 1997.

Lateral Epicondylitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated March 4, 2013. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Nirschl RP, Kraushaar BS. Keeping tennis elbow at arm's length. Phys Sportsmed. 1996.

Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma website. Available at: . Accessed November 7, 2012.

Nirschl RP, Kraushaur BS. Assessment and treatment guidelines for elbow injuries. Phys Sportsmed. 1996;24.

11/8/2006 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Bisset L, Beller E, Jull G, Brooks P, Darnell R, Vicenzino B. Mobilisation with movement and exercise, corticosteroid injection, or wait and see for tennis elbow: randomised trial. BMJ. 2006;333:939.

10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.


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