Dr Bert Perey
Surgical and Other Treatment Options for Tennis Elbow
There are numerous treatment options for tennis elbow. The problem is not many of them work well, and we really don’t have a solid treatment that can reliably get rid of the problem in an expeditious way.
Unfortunately, many patients with this condition will have it for a prolonged period of time. The good news is that with or without treatment, the natural course of this disease is to spontaneously go away. It may take several years in some patients, but it usually goes away.
What your doctor or your therapist can do, is help either deal with the symptoms while you have them, or perhaps help you get rid of them faster.
Some of the most basic treatment options involves therapy where you stretch the muscle, or maybe condition the muscle around the scar tissue. Some people think that that increases blood flow to the area to help resolve the scar in the same way as deep tissue massage around the area of the scar may help get rid of it.
Bracing is also helpful, usually in patients who have symptoms that are tolerable, but not so during sporting activities. So they would wear the brace during work, or sporting activities, or anything that causes an exacerbation of their symptoms.
Cortisone injection has been a popular way of helping patients, but there is data right now suggesting that even though you may get resolution of your symptoms from cortisone, it’s usually temporary and those patients getting cortisone often have more symptoms by one year than those who don’t. So currently the thinking is cortisone probably is not in your best interest in the management of tennis elbow.
The final treatment is surgery. Some patients who have prolonged symptoms of tennis elbow, have undergone all of the other models of treatment, and still remain symptomatic beyond six months, are possibly candidates for surgery.
Their principles of surgery involve excising the scar tissue around the area that’s painful, and allowing blood flow to come in to heal this process. So what you’re doing is you’re actually creating an inflammatory reaction, through surgery, to allow it to heal.
Surgeries can be done through small incisions, through cameras, through needles – there are multiple ways of doing it, and I would speak to your doctor about your options.