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Introduction

Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a common ailment throughout the general population, not merely among those who play tennis. However, the affliction originally received its name due to the frequency of its manifestation among tennis players.

Avoidance

For tennis players, equipment, style and setting must be examined in order to successfully treat tennis elbow. Correct racket sizing and a lowering of string tension may help avoidance of the condition, while care must be taken to strike the ball with the centre of the racket and to avoid flexing the elbow whilst leading with the racket. An evaluation by a tennis pro may be required in this case. Courts with harder surfaces may also increase the risk of development of the condition. Outside of the game, many common activities may lead to tennis elbow and by employing simple changes - such as lifting technique - one can dramatically reduce the amount of pain experienced.

Treatment

Oral anti-inflammatory medication is an often-used treatment for controlling pain and managing inflammation. Cortisone injections may be used as part of the treatment, however, should the patient experience no relief from pain after two injections, further injections are unlikely to help.

An elbow brace - which may help to correct or redirect the pull of misaligned muscles - may be worn in order to provide pain relief during activities. Exercising the muscles and tendons involved with tennis elbow may be useful in order to control the symptoms of the condition. These exercises look to strengthen muscles and prevent recurrence of the injury and should painless to undertake. In the event of pain being experienced during these exercises, they should be abandoned until pain resolves.

A product known as the Thera-Band FlexBar may also be used for strengthening purposes. A recent study has shown higher success rates for users of this tool.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is a controversial treatment occasionally used to combat tennis elbow. The treatment uses sound waves in order to induce 'microtrauma' to muscle tissue, thus initiating a healing response which can alleviate pain. However, there is no conclusive evidence to prove the superiority of shockwave therapy over other treatments.

Some studies have shown Autologous Blood Injection to be a good treatment. This process uses the patient's own blood, which is injected into the damaged tendon in order to stimulate a healing response. Like shockwave therapy, there is little evidence to prove a superiority over other treatments. Platelet-Rich Plasma is another alternative option. The process is similar to autologous blood injection, but this treatment uses a concentration of platelet cells taken from the patient's blood.

Several surgical methods have been shown to be successful, including the process of removal of a portion of the damaged tendon or the release of the attachment of the affected tendon. Occasionally, surgical repair of the unaffected portion of tendon is also undertaken. Arthroscopic elbow surgery is an additional treatment available for fighting tennis elbow.

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