Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) Treatment
Lateral epicondylitis is the medical term used to describe pain on the outer elbow. This is commonly referred to as tennis elbow. However, what is tennis elbow? Tennis elbow is described as a dull ache or at times, a severe pain, on the outer lateral part of your elbow. The pain starts when you damage the muscles in that area that connects to from your elbow down your arm. In some cases, the pain can radiate all the way to your wrist. The injury can be severe enough that clenching your fist or even simple actions like turning the key in a lock can cause disabling pain.
The most common cause for the problem is due to long-term overuse of the muscles form the action of twist your forearm repeatedly. This can damage the tissue and may cause tears in the muscle. The tearing is the cause for the pain. A hard blow, like being struck with an object, directly to the area can also cause the same problem.
Tennis players, as they twist there forearms frequently while playing, experience that injury and that is where the colloquial term has come from, but many people that have never played tennis a day in their life can also suffer from tennis elbow. Other similar motions such as gardening, using a screwdriver, or painting can also lead to lateral epicondylitis. Although just about anyone can have tennis elbow, it is much more commonly found in people over the age 40.
If you develop lateral epicondylitis, you can start treatment on your own right away. The first thing to do is to rest your arm, and avoid any activity that makes the pain worse.
Once you feel the pain, apply ice or cold packs for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. This should be repeated several times a day. Make sure you place a thin towel between the ice and your skin to avoid a frost burn. It is recommended that you keep using ice as long as it relieves pain. It is also suggested to medicate with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen if the ice is insufficient to control the pain.
You can also purchase brace at your local pharmacy that will apply pressure over the area of pain. It should be worn when you need to grasp or twist something. This strap goes around your forearm and is tightened just below the elbow. It helps to ease the pressure on the tendon and spreads force throughout your arm to lessen the pain. Understand that these measures alone will not repair or heal the injured muscles.
You must be patient when treating lateral epicondylitis. You will likely feel less pain in a few weeks, but it may take 6 to 12 months for the tendon to heal if proper care is not rendered. If all of this shows no improvements, then a non-surgical intervention may be needed.
We at the Regenerative Medicine Institute of Nevada (RMIN) employ a vast array of treatment options for patients suffering from tennis elbow. We commonly employ the use of Platelet-Rich-Plasma, or PRP, in combination with additional growth factors and cytokines we get from licensed tissue banks. The addition of the cytokines and growth factors enhances the ability of the injury to heal compared to PRP alone. In severe cases, we have gone to using Stromal Vascular Fraction, a ‘soup’ of cytokines, growth factors, mesenchymal cells, as well as stem cells for recalcitrant cases. If you have been dealing with the pain of tennis elbow, we invite you to come in for a complimentary consultation where we can assist you in choosing a therapy that will get you back to normal sooner than rest, ice, and physical therapy alone will.