Pain in elbow

Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow.

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It is commonly triggered by overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, such as repetitive hand and wrist movements, or repeatedly bending the elbow.

What to do

Resting the arm and avoiding doing things that make it worse is the best way to recover. Pain from tennis elbow usually lasts for 6 to 12 weeks, but can vary.

Steroid injections are not recommended. While they can provide some relief in the short term, over the longer term they can hold back recovery.

Ask these questions

Do I really need to have this test, treatment or procedure?

The answer should be direct and simple. Tests should help you and your health professional decide how to treat your problem, and treatments and procedures should help you live a longer, healthier life.

What are the risks (of having or not having it)?

Discuss the risks as well as the chance of inaccurate results or findings that will never cause symptoms, but may require further testing. Weigh the potential complications against possible benefits and the symptoms of the condition itself.

Are there simpler safer options?

Sometimes lifestyle changes will provide all the relief you need.

What happens if I do nothing?

Ask your health professional if your condition might worsen—or get better—if you don’t have the test or treatment now.

There may be tests, treatments and procedures you think you need, but you don’t. Let’s think again. Engage in a healthy conversation with your health professional today.

It’s OK to ask questions

If you have questions about your symptoms or the medicines managing your symptoms, speak with your health professional.

More information

For more information about tennis elbow and things you can do to help, see: http://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/t/tennis-elbow/

If pain persists talk to your doctor or physiotherapist.

This information is not intended as a substitute for medical advice and should not be exclusively relied on to manage or diagnose a medical condition. Choosing Wisely does not assume any responsibility or liability arising from any error or omission or from the use of any information in these resources.

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This article is part of our content on Choosing Wisely, a campaign encouraging a change in thinking by health professionals and consumers to avoid unnecessary medical intervention.

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