We get asked on many occasions if an injection would help for tennis elbow. People ask this because, historically it has been provided as the main treatment. Often an injection offers good short-term pain relief, or the patient’s friends have had this done. However, are we doing far more harm than good?
Tennis elbow is a degenerative/overuse injury of the tendons in our forearm, occurring due to repetitive micro-tears. You may find difficulty doing tasks like carrying shopping bags, painting, pouring the jug, using a hammer or doing the dishes. In most cases it is an individual’s dominant arm that is injured, with people aged 35-55, and females more likely to be affected.
Unlike previous beliefs, tennis elbow is not an inflammatory condition. This means we need to strengthen the tendon through appropriate exercise and hands on treatment. Evidence has shown that injecting a tendon with steroid weakens its structure, the opposite of what we are looking to achieve. Weakening a tendon makes it harder to strengthen in the future and increases the risk of an injury recurring. You are also at risk of tendon rupture! Having an injection provides poor long-term outcomes, with the rate of injury recurrence x 10 higher than Physiotherapy! In fact, evidence shows you would get better results long-term by doing nothing at all instead of opting for an injection.
So how can we help? A tendons ability to take load/weight is severely reduced with this injury and re-building its strength can take up to 12 weeks! As with all our sessions we look at the whole body to help your specific injury site. We need to make sure your trunk and neck are functioning well to hold your arm. Ensure you are appropriately using your shoulder blade and shoulder so that the forces going down into the elbow are optimal. We have a large toolbox of different treatment options and there is no one ‘ideal’ treatment regime as you are unique and require specific input tailored to you.
At Back In Action Physio we have had great success with ‘tennis elbow’ treatment plans for a number of years now, helping many people get injury free. Helping you in the short-term in important but equally looking after you in the long-term so it doesn’t come back!
If you think you might have tennis elbow check out our Tennis Elbow page then book in to see us so we can start your treatment today.