Training More Effective Than Anti Inflammatories for Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylalgia, commonly referred to as “tennis elbow”, is a prevalent muscular disease. It results from overloading the muscle attachment around the outer surface of the elbow, resulting in pain and tenderness.

Ergonomic advice and training are better than cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of tennis elbow, and present less side effects.

A thesis by a physiotherapist talks about the range of treatment for tennis elbow, the experiences of healthcare personnel when treating individuals with tennis elbow, and also the outcomes from a training program for tennis elbow. A questionnaire was answered by healthcare personnel, which included orthopedic surgeons, physicians and physiotherapists.

It’s evident that medication treatment quite often has side effects. The majority of side effects were documented from those treatments which are usually the treatment of choice for tennis elbow by physicians, being anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections.

The physiotherapist has also examined the outcomes from a structured training program for tennis elbow. 78 individuals were a part of the 1st study, lasting for 4 months, and 297 individuals participated in the follow up study conducted 2 years later. Treatment involved using a home training program to develop strength in the elbow muscles.  These elbow muscles are attached to the hand, meaning that a person’s grip strength will become weaker whenever these elbow muscles are weakened.

This can result in the individual having difficulty in their work, and having to take sick leave. The physiotherapist points out that ergonomic advice could help the individual to adjust to any problems at work, and most could carry on working with the help of wrist support.

It might be painful at nighttime as a lot of people sleep with a bent elbow, making it difficult to straighten it in the morning. The bending of the elbow is often prevented using a basic night bandage and this helps the muscles to heal. A treatment program developed by an occupational therapist and physiotherapist together lessens the individuals’ pain, increases the function of the hand and elbow, and reduces the time taken for sick leave. This program heals tennis elbow more effectively than cortisone injections.

 Shoulder and Elbow Anatomical Chart

Shoulder and Elbow Anatomical Chart

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References: HDL: 2077/22942