Prior to beginning treatment for an epicondylitis condition it will be required to seek the affirmative diagnosis from a specialist. As part of the diagnosis the medical professional will take into account a number of factors to assist in diagnosing the injury. They will attempt to make a connection with how the symptoms occurred – either through an occupational or recreational factor. During this discussion the parties will try to ascertain when the symptoms occurred, what the symptoms are and exactly where you feel the pain.
The doctor will likely conduct a series of simple tests which will involve manipulating the arm, wrist and elbow to check which positions cause pain, along with potentially ordering an elbow x-ray or MRI for more detailed analysis of the injury.
Once a positive diagnosis of epicondylitis has been achieved there will be a recommendation of one or several of the following types of treatment for the injury.
According to research from the Health and Safety Executive the following lists describe the preferred course of treatment of patients with epicondylitis in order of preference (the earlier in the list, the greater the preference for that overall treatment).
Preferred course of initial treatment of epicondylitis
- Rest and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- NSAIDS, keeping active and support (equal preference)
- Adjustment to work and physiotherapy (equal preference)
- Forearm strap (equal preference)
Preferred second treatment of epicondylitis
- Steroid injection
- Referral to GP
- Referral to Rheumatology (equal preference)
- Alteration of work practices (equal preference)
- Steroid injection, physiotherapy, and use of a clamp (equal preference)
In detail, the following treatments are common for either golfers elbow or tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow treatment
The most important aspect in the treatment of tennis elbow is in diagnosing which repetitive motion caused the injury and seeking to reduce or stop that motion entirely.
Similarly, an alteration to the motion that caused the injury should be sought. For example, if it is thought that improper sporting equipment contributed to the injury then it is easily rectified to purchase the correct equipment. Or if poor sporting technique was at fault, the sufferer may wish to seek the services of a sports coach to improve technique, etc.
Forearm stretching, exercise, or muscle strengthening can be important for long term health.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can be used for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis.
The use of an elbow or forearm strap can help to support the area and provide relief from the pain.
Physiotherapy may be offered which will involve manipulation, exercising and massaging of the affected area.
Corticosteroid injections may be used to help short term pain, but the long term benefits are thoughts to be poor.
An alternative option may be to try shock wave therapy which has been shown to help reduce the pain in some cases of tennis elbow.
Surgery will only be recommended in the most severe of cases.
Golfers elbow treatment
Many of the treatments for tennis elbow also apply to the similar condition of golfers elbow. The following are common golfers elbow treatments.
Discover which repetitive motion has caused the injury and either stop the motion entirely or work out a safer way to exercise or complete the task at hand. Removing the cause of the injury is one of the most important factors in treating and preventing a recurrence.
When dealing with medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow) the relieving of pain is an initial treatment aim. This can be achieved through Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
For many soft tissue injuries the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) is an effective strategy.
An elbow brace which is used as a counterforce along with wrist splints can be used to provide support.
Shock wave therapy has seen mixed results in the treatment of golfers elbow (although it is believed that no adverse effects have been noted thus far from this treatment).
Cortisone injections are sometimes offered for golfers elbow.
Surgery is a typical last resort when other treatments have been deemed to be ineffective. Less than 10% of people that have golfers elbow require surgical intervention.