Treatment for tennis elbow aims to relieve the swelling and pain. There are several treatments that can be used to relieve the swelling and pain such as Chiropractic Rehabilitation, Physical Therapy, Electrical Stimulation, Moist Heat, Ultrasound, K-Laser Cube 4, medications for pain relief that is non-steroidal such as naproxen or ibuprofen, local injection and using a splint to keep the forearm still. Activities must be limited during treatment or rehabilitation until you are ready to start performing the activity again. If the pain persists after non-surgical treatments then it may require surgery.
About 95% of people who suffered from tennis elbow recover with the conservative treatments listed above but 5% won’t get better with any of the conservative treatment listed and would require surgery. 90% of people who have surgery gets their strength back and are relieved of pain.
In tennis elbow rehabilitation, there are 3 phases that are being followed. Every phase has a goal that must be reached in order to get to the next phase until you reach full recovery. Every phase is important and should not be skipped.
Phase 1 is done during the acute stage of the injury or the onset of pain. The goal in this phase is to decrease the pain and swelling, promoting healing of tissues and to retard the muscle atrophy. The RICE principle is followed during this phase.
Rest to avoid any further overuse of the elbow. You should maintain your activity level but avoiding any activity that would aggravate your injury. Complete rest won’t be good as this could lead to muscle atrophy. Just be sensitive with your body, if you feel pain with a certain activity and level, avoid it.
Icing is recommended when there is inflammation as it slows down the metabolism of that body part and helps in relieving the pain and spasm of the muscles. You may need to ice the elbow during the entire process of rehabilitation as long a swelling is present.
Compression limits the swelling but you should not compress the body part too tight as this would cut off the circulation. Wrapping a bandage around the injured area is the most common way of compression. If you feel like you wrapped it too tight or you feel throbbing, rewrap it and make it a little looser.
Compression and elevation are two powerful tools in keeping the swelling in its lowest level as possible. Compression helps in minimizing the swelling volume while elevating the elbow would use the gravitational force to its advantage and assist in the fluid return to the veins that causes the swelling. If swelling is minimized, the secondary trauma would also be minimized.