Sportsmen have to deal with different injuries on and off the field. Tennis elbow is a common issue faced by many. With this condition, the tendons on the outer side of your elbow degenerate from chronic use. Tendinosis is usually the cause of tennis elbow. The most common symptoms are pain on the outer side of the elbow. The bony prominence called the lateral epicondyle is where you experience serious pain, but the pain can also spread to the arm. It is hard for people with this condition to lift heavy objects, especially when their palms are facing downwards. There are several treatment options available, and one of them is a tennis elbow injection.
Tennis Elbow Injections: When and How
You usually do not need any treatment for mild pain due to tennis elbow. It is a self-limiting condition and improves with time. The problem is that it sometimes takes weeks or even months for tendons to heal completely. Until then, you will continue to experience pain when you lift something. If the pain is severe, you may consider going for invasive treatmentssuch as surgery. Your healthcare provider will try other treatment methods before recommending surgery.
A tennis elbow injectionmay help manage pain better. Here are different options you have available:
- Local corticosteroid injection: You may have to take steroid injections to treat acute pain. They work quite well to reduce pain for a short time. You can have another injection after 6-12 weeks of your first one. Bear in mind though, this injection comes with a high relapse rate and poor prognosis, so you should not consider it as a long-term treatment option.
- Autologous blood products: The procedure involves taking a sample of your blood to retrieve the heaviest layer of plasma that needs to be injected back into your body. This does not always prove effective though, and is currently used mainly for research purposes.
- Hyaluronan gel injection: The doctor will inject this gel into your joint. It usually works great for arthritic joints, but it has also shown positive results in patients with tennis elbow.
- Botulinum toxin: You have to take an injection into extensor digitorum longus muscles for pain relief, but that is recommended in severe cases only. It paralyzes the 3rd and 4th fingers for a short time and takes pressure off the tendon.
Other Methods to Treat Tennis Elbow
In addition to taking a tennis elbow injection,you can also try some other ways to improve your condition.
- Avoid or modify your activities to put less strain on your affected elbow muscles and tendons. Giving your arm some rest will accelerate recovery. Talk to your employer about your problem if your work requires you to carry out manual tasks, such as heavy lifting.
- Take painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain. Both paracetamol and ibuprofen will help. You can also find topic NSAIDs for pain relief.
- Physiotherapy will also improve range of motion and help you restore movement to the injured areas through exercise. Your physiotherapist may also give you massage to relieve stiffness and pain. Massage will also improve blood flow to your arm. Your physiotherapist may also recommend a brace, support bandage, or strapping to accelerate recovery.
- Shock wave therapy is yet another non-invasive treatment that involves passing high-energy shock waves through your skin to promote movement in the affected elbow. You may require multiple sessions before you see some positive results. Keep in mind that the therapy may have some side effects such as reddening of skin and bruising.
- Surgery is usually the last resort and is recommended when other treatments fail to offer any relief. The procedure involves removing the damaged part of the tendon to relieve pain and tenderness.
Managing Side Effects of Corticosteroid Injections
Just like other medicines, corticosteroid injections have side effects as well. It is also important to note that you may have to choose this treatment option because it offers immediate pain relief in most cases. It means the benefits are usually more important than side effects in this case. Most side effects go away after some time. However, you should talk to your doctor if the side effects still bother you after several weeks. Be sure to seek immediately medical attention if you experience symptoms such as breathing difficulties, swelling of lips, face, throat or tongue, and swelling on the injection site lasting longer than 2 days. You should also contact your doctor if you have hives after taking corticosteroid injections.
Tennis Elbow Injections: One Person’s Experience
I hurt my elbow about 6 months ago and I thought it was just a minor muscle pain. I took painkillers but it kept getting worse. I went to my doctor and he confirmed it was tennis elbow. He prescribed stronger painkillers to reduce pain but it did not get any better. I started working with a physiotherapist but my pain was still quite debilitating. Then, my doctor suggested a corticosteroid injection. I never felt any pain when the needle first went inside my elbow, but then it became excruciating. I took painkillers after the injection andthe pain started getting better the very next day. I notice some relief a week afterwards. It was better than other methods I tried in the past.