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Dealing with elbow pain?

Last Modified: April 26, 2024

Sports & Exercise, Family Medicine

If you’ve ever felt intense discomfort in your elbow while playing sports or during daily activities, you might be experiencing tennis elbow. In this post, we will discuss the symptoms, when to seek medical attention and the options available for treating this uncomfortable orthopedic condition.


Lateral epicondylitis, more commonly referred to as tennis elbow, refers to soreness or pain on the outer part of the elbow. The pain occurs when the tendon is stretched and becomes irritated by repetitive twisting of the hand, wrist and forearm. While this injury is common among tennis, pickleball and golf players, it can be caused by several other activities like gardening, painting and using tools. Typically, tennis elbow heals with rest and at-home treatment.

Symptoms of tennis elbow

The primary indicator of tennis elbow is pain. It may start with a dull aching or soreness on the outer part of the elbow that goes away within 24 hours after the activity has ended. Over time, the pain may persist and can also be present during everyday activities such as lifting a jug of milk. Other parts of the arm, shoulder and neck may also be sore due to using different movements and muscles to make up for the loss of elbow strength and mobility.

When to seek medical attention

Contact your primary care provider or visit a Parkview Ortho Express walk-in clinic to seek immediate medical attention if:

  • Your pain is worse.
  • You cannot bend your elbow normally.
  • Your arm or hand is cool, pale or changes color.
  • You have tingling, weakness or numbness in your hand and/or fingers.

Watch closely for changes in your health and contact your doctor if the pain impacts your ability to work or does not subside after two weeks.

How is tennis elbow diagnosed?

A doctor will examine your elbow and ask questions about the affected area, your daily activities and past injuries. An X-ray is not usually necessary but may be recommended to help rule out other potential causes of pain. Additional tests like an MRI or arthroscopy may be considered if symptoms persist despite treatment. In rare cases, bone scans are performed to detect stress fractures, tumors or infections.

How is tennis elbow treated?

With early and appropriate treatment, an injured tendon is likely to heal by forming scar tissue, gradually restoring strength and functionality.  

Treating tennis elbow at home includes:

Most cases of tennis elbow respond to treatment and improve within a few weeks, but it can take 6 to 12 months for the tendon to fully recover. If pain or symptoms return, your provider may suggest alternative treatments such as corticosteroid injections, ultrasound therapy or surgery.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of tennis elbow or suspect you might have it, don’t wait.  Parkview Ortho Express offers quick and convenient care at two locations in northeast Indiana, including Fort Wayne and Huntington. Reach out to your primary care provider or connect with our orthopedics team to find relief.





Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.

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