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Tennis elbow

Find out about tennis elbow its causes and how it can be treated by our range of expert Orthopaedic surgeons. Book your consultation today.

Tennis elbow is a painful condition that is localised on the outside of the elbow. The medical name for this tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis.

Although common amongst tennis players due to the strain of using a racket, tennis elbow it can affect anyone. It usually develops as a result of doing a repetitive motion that involves bending and straightening your elbow.

It might be sore to lift things or bend your arm. You also might find gripping and twisting things difficult.

As mentioned above, tennis elbow is usually caused by overusing the muscles around your elbow. Tiny tears can occur in the muscle around the bony lump on the outside of your elbow, causing pain and inflammation.

This can happen if you are not used to doing certain activities with your arm – for example gardening – but it can also happen if you do a particular activity too much. Certain occupations and regular manual work can make developing tennis elbow more likely.

You might also develop tennis elbow after banging or knocking your elbow against a hard surface.

Diagnosing tennis elbow

When you meet with your doctor, they will discuss your elbow pain in depth. This will help them reach an accurate diagnosis. They might ask:

  • Does your pain have an obvious cause or trigger, or did it appear without warning?
  • Have you ever had a similar type of pain in your elbow?
  • Have you had a previous injury to your elbow?
  • Do you have any other symptoms (even if they’re seemingly unrelated to your elbow pain)?

Depending on your symptoms, other diagnostic tests might be used to rule out other causes of your elbow pain. These tests include an elbow X-Ray, an ultrasound or an MRI. Your doctor will explain these tests to you if they are needed.

We treat patients of all ages and all backgrounds, ranging from elite sportspeople to those who want to improve their day-to-day quality of life. We have an expert team on site to support your treatment, including physiotherapists, sports and exercise consultants, radiologists, neurologists and more, to make sure your recovery is as fast, effective and convenient as possible.

If you are coming to us directly (rather than via GP or insurance referral), we offer very competitively priced self-pay packages, along with payment plan options to help make private healthcare accessible and affordable for all.

There are several different ways a tennis elbow can be treated.

Pain relief

Painkillers might help manage your pain. Paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen often reduces pain, helping to improve your mobility.

Heat therapy

A hating pad could help relax your joints, improving your mobility and reducing pain. Alternatively, placing a cold compress on your elbow throughout the day could numb your elbow, reducing pain and providing relief.

Steroid injections

Steroids can reduce inflammation, so injecting this medicine into the affected area may ease your symptoms. You might be given a local anaesthetic for the procedure.

The relief offered by steroid injections is temporary, so you will likely have to have them every few months.

Tennis elbow exercises According to the National Institute of Health Research, physiotherapy services are an important way to prevent and reduce the negative impacts of musculoskeletal conditions, improving patients’ lives.

BMI Healthcare physiotherapists can work with you to create a programme of exercises that will help your elbow to get back to normal. Starting off gently, these physical therapies will help to build strength and restore motion to your arm.

Your physical therapist will recommend strengthening exercises for you to do several times a day. It is important to follow your exercise regime diligently to reap its benefits. Learn more about physiotherapy and elbow pain exercises here.

Tennis elbow brace

if you are continuing to use your affected arm, you may need to wear a brace. A compression strap can help to minimise tension and ease stress on the affected elbow.

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) involves the use of a medical device to pass shockwaves through the skin to the injured part of the body.

A course of ESWT usually requires three to four sessions, each taking about 30 minutes, which in addition to the ESWT, includes advice on retraining weak muscles related to the injury.

ESWT is carried out at an outpatient appointment and requires no injections, medication or surgery.

Tennis elbow surgery

If you have tried other treatments across several months and are still in significant pain, your Consultant might recommend elbow surgery.
During the operation, your surgeon will remove any damaged tendons from your elbow. This should take around half an hour, and you should be able to get back to your regular activities within a few weeks, depending on how the elbow heals.

Tennis elbow can be frustrating to live with, but it’s important to know that good help is available. You are not alone.

An appointment with an experienced elbow Consultant at your nearest BMI hospital can be helpful. They will assess and diagnose the cause of your elbow pain and then discuss any suitable treatment options for your specific situation.

To schedule your visit, book a specialist appointment online today. We really look forward to helping you get back to doing the things you love.