How Is Your Health?

3 Treatment Approaches For Lateral Epicondylitis

by Camila Davidson

Lateral epicondylitis can be pretty painful and debilitating. Whether you acquired this injury playing tennis as its pet name "tennis elbow" suggests, or you developed it engaging in some other activity like golf or baseball, it's important not to ignore it. If you remain active and keep putting strain on your elbow, it is just going to get worse. Instead, you should see a sports medicine doctor. Depending on the severity of your injury, they will recommend one of the following three treatment approaches.

RICE and Conservative Therapy

Your doctor may refer to this strategy either as RICE or as conservative therapy, depending on their training. Either way, the acronym RICE is an easy way to describe it. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. Basically, you will rest your elbow by taking time off from exercise and by not using it more than needed. You'll ice it a few times per day, often for about 20 minutes at a time. You'll apply compression, usually in the form of some wrap or brace your doctor provides, and you'll elevate your elbow to help keep the inflammation at bay. Mild to moderate cases of tennis elbow subside within a couple of weeks with conservative therapy.

Cortisone Injections

If your tennis elbow is pretty severe, perhaps because you continued to exercise through it before you realized what was going on, then your doctor may recommend cortisone injections. These are injections of a steroid straight into the affected area. The steroid will jump-start the inflammation-reduction process, which will help ease your pain. You may need a couple of injections before you fully recover. Cortisone injections may allow you to keep doing a small amount of exercise with your elbow while it recovers.


Surgery is only recommended as a last resort for tennis elbow, and it is hardly ever necessary. However, some cases are bad, and some people are poor healers and don't heal without surgery. If you have shown little to no improvement after steroid injections, the surgery to repair the injured tendon will be performed. Luckily, the surgery is usually performed arthroscopically these days, meaning that it is performed through several small incisions. This speeds the healing time. You can expect to be fully healed within about 6 months of the surgery.

Lateral epicondylitis is a condition to be taken seriously. Do not keep working through it; seek treatment from a sports medicine injury treatment clinic like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C.