Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain on the outer surface of the elbow. It is usually caused by strain which damages the tendons around the elbow. In many cases, symptoms often improve with time simply by stopping activities that cause the symptoms. Painkillers may sometimes help to ease the pain until the causes of the condition are removed. A steroid injection may sometimes be used to ease pain within a short period of time. However, the pain often comes back. Physiotherapy and other modes of treatment are usually done if symptoms persist.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a type of repetitive strain injury (RSI), i.e., a combination of long-lasting exhaustion and irritation in the tendons and muscles on the backside of the arm and the outer surface of the elbow, which extend to the fingers and wrist. The traditional medical word for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis or lateral elbow pain. This is the reason of getting pain around the area of the lateral epicondyle (the outer, lower, and joint region of the humerus bone in the upper arm).
How Long Does it Take to Heal Tennis Elbow?
For most people, tennis elbow usually takes between six months and two years to heal. Additionally, there is a very less chance that tennis elbow may return after recovery. The acute phase of tennis elbow takes around 3 weeks or less to recover, whereas recovery of the chronic cases of tennis elbow takes more than 4 weeks. For a few people, tennis elbow does not improve easily and requires more extreme treatment, such as surgery.
Ways to Fix Tennis Elbow Fast
Conventional Methods of Treating Tennis Elbow:
The most common conventional treatment options for tennis elbow include the following-
- Medicine: Certain NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually prescribed by different medical practitioners. The most common medicines include Tylenol, Advil, Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc. which helps in healing the condition. In some cases, anti-inflammatory painkillers, gels or creams are also prescribed. Even, medicines like paracetamol or codeine may also be helpful.
- Autologous Blood Injection: If all other treatments fail, this procedure is used. In this procedure, blood is taken from different parts of the body and then injected into the damaged painful tendons of the elbow. It is usually believed that the blood helps to heal the damaged tendons.
- Botulinum Toxin A Injection: Botulinum toxin A injection into muscles of the forearm has proved to be a quite effective treatment for tennis elbow. However, after a few months of post-injection, one is usually unable to move the third and fourth fingers of the affected hand. Therefore, it is only prescribed in very severe cases.
- Steroid Injection: If severe pain and difficulty in the forearm persist due to tennis elbow, a corticosteroid injection is given into the painful area of the elbow to ease the pain. Sometimes, a steroid injection may be repeated after a few weeks if pain relapses.
- Surgery: If the symptoms of tennis elbow persist for quite some time and are really painful as well as troublesome then a doctor may advise an operation. The common operative methods to ease symptom involves the proper removal of the damaged or torn part of the tendon. Only a few numbers of people need this surgery to properly cure tennis elbow.
Alternative Ways to Fix Tennis Elbow Fast:
The other different ways to fix tennis elbow include the following:
- Rest: Rest is the foremost effective and fastest way of treating tennis elbow. Even, a week of resting the forearm, as much possible, is often enough to make an effective difference.
- Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy has also proved to be helpful in treating tennis elbow. Different physiotherapists also use techniques like laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, massage, and exercises to treat tennis elbow.
- Stretching and Mobilizing: Stretching is quite an effective way for treating specific health conditions. Occasionally, muscle trigger points respond well to stretching exercises. However, one must be careful while stretching, such as they should not stretch too strenuously and must release the stretched muscles gradually. Mobilizing, on the other hand, is basically stretching the body part in a rhythmic way in one direction and then in the other. To mobilize the forearm muscles, one must start doing more stimulation neurologically other than only simple static stretching.
- Exercise: A habit of performing regular exercise is the best and fastest way to recover from tennis elbow. However, be aware of overdoing it. Gradual and progressive exercise often shows an effective result in this condition. Both rest and exercise should be continued regularly but keeping a balance in between.
- Splints and Supports: These involve wearing a special elbow bandage or armband. This provides prominent support and protection to the damaged elbow until the removal of symptoms. Another option is to wear a wrist splint that may ease the pain by resting the torn muscles and tendons of the affected elbow.
- Icing: In acute cases or chronic condition, ice may eventually control inflammation and potentially delay progression of the condition. For the treatment in chronic cases, ice helps in strongly stimulating the forearm tissues without stressing it much. This may help to heal the tissues without causing any further harm. Icing should be done for minimum of 4-5 times every day on the affected area.
- Isometric Contraction: This shows robust pain-relief effect surprisingly by tensing and contracting the back muscles of the forearm without affecting the wrist with the aim to put the tendon under immense tension for about a minute. It is one of the most effective pain-controlling methods by acting as a good alternative to medication. Start doing with a moderate intensity for one minute, and slowly increase the intensity as well as the duration to see the best possible effect.
- Self-massage for Fixing Tennis Elbow: Tennis elbow, in most cases, intensifies by muscle tension in the forearms. It is often helpful to perform various simple massages like long and loosened strokes to elbow from hand on the back of the forearm. These help in relieving the pain.
- Contrast Hydrotherapy: This is a way of application of heat and cold compress alternatively to the affected area. This gradually enhances the blood circulation in the entire hand and arm and fixes the pain and discomfort associated with tennis elbow fast. It is also a type of stress-free tissue stimulation with much better impact on blood circulation particularly.
- Friction Massage: Like other health conditions, tennis elbow may respond well to a particular type of massaging technique called friction massage. Rub the back of forearm and across the tendon softly with thumb or finger pads until the sensitivity totally disappears, which should take more or less than a minute or two, and then finally increase the intensity slowly. Repeat this for a few more times. However, if the intensity is uncomfortable, then discontinue immediately.
- Shock Wave Therapy: This therapy uses high-energy sound waves to treat tennis elbow. In this therapy, a special device passes the shock waves through the skin around the elbow and finally to the affected area. If the shock wave is painful then local anesthetic may be given. Few treatment sessions are usually needed to cure the condition. Although, shock wave therapy is quite safe but researches are still going on to validate its safety. Moreover, this therapy causes a very negligible side effect and produces very less chance of tearing the damaged elbow tissues or tendons.
Along with the above-mentioned treatment process, one can also take oral vitamin supplements for much faster recovery from tennis elbow. In case of tennis elbow, the damaged tendons require enough amounts of vitamins and minerals to repair it from within. Moreover, a healthy and strong immune system helps to make the repair process faster.