Tennis elbow treatment is most often successful. The
most important part of treatment is tendon rest. A long rest from aggravating
activity allows the small tears in the tendon to heal. Depending on how severe
your condition is, you may need to rest your tendon for weeks to months.
Surgery is a last resort if other treatment isn't helpful.
Initial home treatment
tennis elbow works best when it starts as soon as
symptoms appear. If your condition is just starting, rest may be all you need.
But in most cases, more treatment is needed to protect and heal the
You can treat your tennis elbow
- As soon as you notice pain, use ice or cold packs for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. Always put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Keep using ice as long as it relieves pain. Or use a warm, moist cloth or take hot baths if they feel good. Do what works for you.
- You can also
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including
aspirin (such as Bayer), ibuprofen (such as Advil), or naproxen (such as
Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of
Reye syndrome, a serious illness. Or try an NSAID cream that you rub over the sore area. Acetaminophen (such
as Tylenol) can also help with pain.
- Stopping or changing
activities that may irritate the tendon. Learn new techniques for certain
movements, and use different equipment that may reduce the stress on your
Wrist and elbow splints can be used in the treatment of
tennis elbow. Splints are sometimes helpful for other bone, joint, and tendon
problems. But splints have not been shown to help with pain or recovery for
tennis elbow injuries.
Over the first months of
tennis elbow, continue your initial treatment and
- Rehabilitation (rehab). This can include
exercise and other
physical therapy treatments to decrease pain and
increase range-of motion.
- Exercises for flexibility and arm muscle strength
include the following:
- Warm-up exercises for tennis elbow
- Stretching exercises for tennis elbow
- Strengthening exercises for tennis elbow
- Wearing a special counterforce brace. This
strap, worn around your forearm just below the elbow, may spread pressure
throughout the arm instead of putting it all on the tendon. With a counterforce
brace, you may do some grasping and twisting activities. It won't help, though,
if you continue using a poor technique or the wrong equipment that originally
caused your tennis elbow. You don't need a doctor's advice before trying a
counterforce brace. You can find these braces in most drugstores or sporting
- Working with an expert to see whether you need to
change how you do an activity or what equipment you use. A sports trainer can
help with sports activities and equipment. An
occupational therapist, or
physical therapist can help with your workplace,
including what tools you use, how your workspace is set up, and how you do your