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Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain and irritation around the outside of the elbow.

What are the symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

The primary symptom is pain around the outside of the elbow. This can often be accompanied by a reduced range of movement and stiffness, particularly first thing in the morning. The pain can often worsen on any movement of the wrist or gripping activities.

What causes Tennis Elbow?

The elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that move your elbow, wrist and fingers. These muscles are connected to the surrounding bones by tendons.

Tennis Elbow is caused by damage to the tendons in the forearm that connect to the bony part on the inside of the elbow. This part is called the lateral epicondyle, hence the clinical name – Lateral Epicondylitis. It is caused by repetitive movements and overuse of the muscles attached to your elbow and used to straighten your wrist.

As the name suggests, Tennis Elbow is caused by playing tennis. However, it can also be caused by any other activities that place repeated stress on the elbow joint, such as decorating or playing the violin.

Pulsed Radiofrequency (PRF) for the treatment of Tennis Elbow

What is pulsed radiofrequency (PRF)?

It is a treatment that uses radio waves to control pain.  A rapidly-changing electrical current is applied using a needle to a specific nerve which is causing problems.  This causes changes to the nerve which can provide pain relief by preventing pain signals from reaching the spinal cord.  Other signals from this nerve are not blocked.

What are the benefits?

PRF treatment can give long lasting pain relief for between three to 18 months but everyone experiences the effects in different ways. 

What are the risks?

Overall PRF injections are very safe and serious side-effects or complications are rare.  However, like all injection procedures there are some risks.

Common risks

  • Bruise or tenderness at the site of injection.
  • An increase in your pain – this should only last a few days.

Rare risks

  • No improvement in pain.
  • Prolonged increase in pain after the procedure.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Injury to nerves – either temporary or permanent.
  • Anaphylaxis – severe allergic reaction to drugs.

What are the alternatives?

You do not have to have PRF and there are alternative treatments which we are happy to discuss with you. These include:

Osteopathy/physiotherapy and exercises prescriptions

      • Osteopathy/physiotherapy and exercises prescriptions
      • Taking painkillers, such as paracetamol, may help reduce mild pain caused by tennis elbow. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can also be used to help reduce inflammation.
      • Surgery may be used as a last resort to remove the damaged part of the tendon.
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