Physical examination will be done by the doctor to assess your elbow, wrist, and fingers for any pain, swelling and stiffness. Medical history and physical assessment can sometimes provide enough detail in order to diagnose but if there is something else that the doctor would like to confirm, the following tests will be requested:
- X-ray. Checks for arthritis or bone fracture.
- Other diagnostic imaging tests. Such as Ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed tomography (CT) Scan checks for any damage to the muscles or tendon.
- Electromyography (EMG). Measures the nerve cells electrical transmission and muscle function to check for any nerve compression.
Sometime, a tennis elbow will heal on its own by taking a rest, using the right body mechanics, cold compress on the affected area and taking over-the-counter medicine for pain. But if your symptoms still persist, the doctor may recommend physical rehabilitation or surgery in the worst case.
There will be guidance on which exercises to in order to regain muscle strength and reduce the impact on your affected area. If an injury is due to sports activity such as playing tennis, your doctor may suggest you to check with your trainer or tennis expert in order to know which movement you need to adjust or change for a better body mechanics when playing.
Other Treatment Procedures and Surgery
- Injection. Injectable treatment such as Botulinum toxin, Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) or irritants such as prolotherapy into the tendon that has pain may be recommended by the doctor. Furthermore, dry needling (small needle is inserted into the injured tendon in various parts of the affects area) may also help.
- Braces. The doctor may advise you to wear a counterforce brace which is a removable support brace that reduce the tension on the muscles and tendons.
- Ultrasonic tenotomy (TENEX). An ultrasound-guided procedure where the specialist inserts a needle into the affected tendon area. The sound waves rapidly shake the needle and turn the injured tissue into a liquid that can be drawn out thereafter.
- Surgery. After 6 to 12 months that your symptoms still persist with all the other non-surgical treatments done, surgery may be the last resort to take out the injured tissue. The surgery can be done by cutting a huge incision or a lot of tiny incisions on an affected area. After the surgery, you must undergo physical therapy which is important for your recovery.