Does Tennis Elbow Go Away On Its Own?
Does Tennis Elbow go away on its own? This is a question we at Active Sport & Spine Therapy hear quite a bit! And we are confident we can answer your questions pretty thoroughly. Active Sport & Spine Therapy sees patients quite frequently for tennis elbow and other conditions. So if we don’t answer your question thoroughly here, please feel free to reach out to us or look form more information on our blog!
Tennis Elbow & Medical Intervention
Around 95 percent of people who have tennis elbow get better without surgical treatments. After treatment, they may resume activities. It might take about six to 18 months for symptoms of tennis elbow to go away.
A small quantity of people require surgery. From 80 – 90 percent of individuals who receive a tennis elbow operation feel improvement within a year.
What Is a Tennis Elbow?
This condition involves an overuse injury, occurring as tendons (tissue attaching muscle to bone) get overloaded, which leads to inflammation, possible tearing and degeneration. Tennis Elbow usually impacts tennis players who hold their tennis racquets too tightly. However, anyone may develop this condition, medically referred to as lateral epicondylitis.
Tennis Elbow: How Common Is It?
Between 1 – 3 percent of people in America get afflicted by this painful condition. It is most prevalent in those 30 to 50 years of age and can affect all genders.
Who May Get a Tennis Elbow?
Any person who routinely performs repetitive activities, vigorously using the hands, wrists, or forearms may acquire tennis elbow. It might affect professional and recreational:
- Racquetball, pickleball, squash, and tennis players
- Softball and baseball players
Those working in specific professions are also more susceptible to this condition:
- Landscapers and gardeners
- Plumbers, painters, cleaners, and carpenters
- Chefs and butchers
- Auto mechanics and assembly line workers
Can Tennis Elbow Impact One or Both Arms?
Typically, Tennis elbow impacts a person’s dominant side. However, depending on the kind of repetitive activity, you might get the condition in both arms.
PRO TIP: Explore our comprehensive range of services at Active Sport & Spine Therapy of NJ, including specialized treatments like Sports Physical Therapy. Contact us today to learn how our services can contribute to your overall well-being.
What is the Difference Between a Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow ?
Golfer’s elbow is a problem that affects the inner part of the elbow, or the medial epicondyle tendon. Medial epicondylitis is the medical word for golfer’s elbow.
People who suffer with golfer’s elbow experience inner elbow pain, radiating down their arm. Also, they may experience finger tingling and numbness. Golf players may acquire tennis elbow, like tennis players might acquire golfer’s elbow. Lateral epicondylitis affects the outer part of the elbow, or lateral epicondyle tendon.
What Causes Lateral Epicondylitis
Repetitive arm movements may cause the forearm muscles to become fatigued. One tendon will attach this muscle to a bony bump on the exterior part of the elbow (also known as the lateral epicondyle). As the muscle becomes fatigued, the tendon will take on more of the load. That overloading may cause pain and inflammation, referred to as tendinitis. Over a period of time, that overloading might cause a degenerative condition referred to as tendinosis. Together tendinosis and tendinitis may then cause tendon tearing.
At times, a sudden elbow or arm injury leads to lateral epicondylitis. People rarely develop this condition for no apparent reason.
Tennis Elbow: What Are the Symptoms?
Usually, Tennis elbow is the direct result of overuse. Symptoms generally come on gradually. Pain might grow worse over time. Tennis elbow signs include:
- Weakened grip while trying to grasp items such as someone’s hand, wrench, pen, or racquet.
- Swollen elbow joint that is tender to the touch.
- Pain or stiffness while extending the arms.
- Pain while bending or twisting the arms (for example, to open a jar or turn a doorknob).
- Pain or burning on the outer elbow that might extend to the wrist (those sensations might worsen at night).
Tennis Elbow: How Is It Diagnosed?
Your doctor can complete a physical examination to check for elbow joint stiffness, swelling, and pain. Your doctor might also inquire about activities that may produce pain. In order to make a diagnosis, you might undergo one or more of the following tests:
- EMG (Electromyography) checks for any compressed nerves by measuring nerve and muscle electrical activity.
- Imaging tests, which includes ultrasound, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scans, assess muscle and tendon damage.
- X-rays that rule out conditions such as a broken bone or arthritis.
Tennis Elbow: How Is It Treated or Managed?
The condition might get better by itself with little, to no treatment. But, the recovery might take about 18 months. Some proven nonsurgical methods exist that may accelerate recovery time. Minimally invasive and nonsurgical treatments for tennis elbow involve:
- Minimally invasive tenotomy: The doctor might conduct a minimally invasive treatment that removes degenerative tendon tissue from the interior of the tendon. The procedure (referred to as TenJet) utilizes a needle device that has high pressured saline that creates suction and hydro-resects the degenerative tissue of the tendon. It might be the alternative to a larger surgical treatment.
- Extracorporeal shock waves: Sound wave therapy may break up scar tissue. Blood flow to the damaged region will improve, afterward.
- PRP (Platelet-rich plasma) therapy: Platelets are small cell fragments in the blood that help healing. During a platelet-rich plasma therapy injection, the doctor removes a tiny quantity of blood and separates platelets from additional blood cells. They then inject concentrated platelets into the injured space under the guidance of ultrasound.
- Steroid injections: An injectable corticosteroid temporarily relieves joint inflammation and pain. The injections have to be positioned in the right area, which is the reason why most physicians perform the injections under the guidance of ultrasound.
- Physical therapy: Exercises with a physical therapist will strengthen forearm muscles, as well as your grip. Ultrasound, massage, or other types of muscle-stimulating methods can assist in reducing pain and improving function.
- Braces: The doctor might suggest using a removable support brace referred to as a counterforce brace. The tool removes tension off of muscles and tendons.
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including naproxen (Aleve®) and ibuprofen (Advil®), may alleviate inflammation and pain.
- Rest: You’ll have to decrease or stop activities for multiple weeks to give your tendons healing time.
If Symptoms Don’t Improve
If your symptoms do not improve following a six to 12 month period of nonsurgical treatment, your doctor might suggest surgery, such as a tendon repair or open debridement of the tendon. Typically, surgery will involve extracting the injured muscle and tendon. Your doctor will replace any damaged tissue with healthy muscle and tendon from various parts of the body. Recovery may take up to six months. Once you have acquired a tennis elbow, you might have to use a brace that keeps symptoms from coming back.
Tennis Elbow: How Can I Prevent It?
The following measures will help to avoid this condition:
- Use an elbow brace that keeps symptoms from growing worse.
- Stretch arms and wrists before an activity or starting work.
- Lift weights in order to strengthen wrist muscles and forearms.
- Check all equipment for the right fit. For instance, loose or stiff-strung racquets might decrease stress on the forearm.
- Do not push through the pain. Pain is the body’s way of communicating to you, and you should take heed to its call. Pushing through the pain may cause damage to the tendon and possible tearing.
Conclusion: Does Tennis Elbow Go Away On Its Own?
Any person performing a job or activities requiring repetitive arm motions (bending and extending) may acquire tennis elbow. See a physical therapist or doctor if straightening and bending the arm produces pain or the exterior elbow is tender to touch. They can provide recommendations on reducing inflammation and pain. People rarely need surgery if they have a tennis elbow. So if you’re wondering if this conditions goes away, just know that with the right treatment, you can return to the activities or work you enjoy safely and pain-free.