How long does Tennis Elbow take to Heal

By  , Expert Content
Oct 25, 2012

Tennis elbow, is also known as lateral epicondylitis. It is caused because of injury and inflammation at the site of muscle attachment on the outside of the elbow. The injury is caused because of overuse of certain muscles of the forearm. Overuse or repetitive use can cause small tears to develop in the tendon where the muscle connects to the bone.

[Read: Tips to Prevent Tennis Elbow]

Time needed for tennis elbow to heal

Pain of tennis elbow usually shows improvement in less than 6 weeks upon timely diagnosis and  proper treatment. Another 6 weeks may be needed to regain full strength in severe cases. But in some patients the symptoms may last for longer period even with treatment. If the injury is not treated timely and appropriately or you continue to overuse the arm then the condition can become chronic.

According to experts recovery time depends significantly on the severity of injury, patient compliance with treatment and stage of injury. Improvement in symptoms of tennis elbow by stage of the injury is usually as follows:

  • Recent injury (injury less than 2 weeks old) which is not severe, improves rapidly with use of anti-inflammatory medications, ice, and rest.
  • If the injury is more than 2 weeks old then other treatment besides rest, ice and pain relieving medications may be required. In most cases the injury is treated with soft tissue release techniques.


[Read: Treatment Options of a Tennis Elbow]

Most people with tennis elbow show improvement with non-surgical treatment (such as anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen to relive pain, physical therapy to improve strength of muscles of the arm, brace to rest the muscles). In some cases steroid injections or shock wave therapy may be needed. If the pain persists for more than 6—12 months then the doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery is needed for less than 10 per cent of the cases as more than 90 per cent of people improve with non-surgical treatment.

Healing may be delayed or you may experience recurrence of symptoms if you:  

  • do excessive or inappropriate physical activity
  • use improper equipment (too big or heavy for you)
  • use improper sporting technique (any improper technique increases the risk of injury)
  • start use of your arm without adequate rest and physiotherapy
  • have weak muscles, spasm of muscle or stiffness of joint (especially if the wrist, elbow, neck or upper back joints are involved)

Tennis elbow can become chronic if it is not treated properly, but it usually doesn't result in any other long-term health problems. Timely and appropriate treatment and taking preventive measures can speed-up healing.

Read more articles on Tennis Elbow


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