What are the signs of tennis elbow?
Lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow, causes pain where the extensor muscles of the wrist and fingers attach to the bone on the outer side of the elbow. The pain tends to increase when lifting heavy objects. An ultrasound or MRI is needed to diagnose this condition.
The most common result of this condition is that it limits the patient’s activities (for example, difficulty holding a tool or racket). Pain can also worsen at night, causing trouble sleeping. Patients may also lose elbow mobility or develop compensatory injuries of the shoulder.
There are several non-surgical treatment options for people with tennis elbow.
- Treatments like physiotherapy and occupational therapy, osteopathy, and acupuncture cure more than 90% of cases.
- If pain persists after three months of treatment and rest, ultrasound-guided PRP (plasma-rich platelet) injections may be considered.
- If pain persists after six months of treatment and rest, patients need to have an ultrasound or MRI and be seen by an orthopaedist to evaluate surgical options.
About PRP treatment (platelet-rich plasma injections)
- Blood is drawn after arriving at the clinic and centrifuged to separate the platelets
- Ultrasound is used to guide the injection.
- Length of procedure: 30 minutes
- Do not take anti-inflammatory drugs for two weeks before or four weeks after the injection.
- Resume normal activities gradually.
- Recovery rate: 75% (4–6 months post treatment)
Open tenotomy with debridement and tendon repair is the surgical method used. This involves cleaning the damaged tendon, releasing excess tension, and letting the tendon reattach to the surrounding muscles.
About the procedure
- Outpatient procedure
- Short two- to three-centimetre incision
- Length of procedure: 30 to 45 minutes
- Local anesthesia – the patient remains conscious during the procedure.
Patients may be escorted home immediately after their procedure. The elbow may be mobilized immediately after surgery. Patients must take pain relievers during the first two to three days after surgery.
- Physiotherapy will be recommended if needed.
- Non-physical activities may be resumed the next day if pain levels permit.
- Patients can resume non-strenuous activities during the first week (cooking, driving, writing, typing).
- Physical activity may be resumed gradually six to eight weeks post surgery. Non-strenuous sports (like golf) can be resumed two months after surgery and strenuous sports (like tennis) can be resumed approximately four months after surgery.
- Full recovery normally takes between three and five months.
- Success rate: 90% to 95%
Ease your pain fast
Dr. Marc Beauchamp: the doctor for shoulder and elbow pain