Tennis Elbow | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is tennis elbow diagnosed?

Your child's physician makes the diagnosis after a physical exam and a medical history. During the exam, your doctor may evaluate your child's forearm and wrist movement, apply pressure to the affected areas, or ask your child to describe their pain. X-rays may also be used to rule out other causes for your child's pain.

How is tennis elbow treated?

Specific treatment for tennis elbow will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the injury
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference

Most cases of tennis elbow are treatable with rest and pain medication only. However, NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen should not be taken in the long-term, as these medications can cause the stomach to bleed internally.

Also, orthotic devices, such as straps and braces, may help relieve the stress on your child's arm.

At Boston Children's Hospital, we are now considering the latest in tendon regeneration with the application of Platelet Rich Plasma. This process has been popular in Europe and has been getting a lot of attention in the United States to enhance tissue regeneration in difficult to heel areas such as tendons. There are many healing growth factors normally in our platelets.

  • The process involves drawing off the patient's own blood and isolating the platelets that contain these growth factors.
  • This is then injected into the affected areas with ultrasound guidance.

This special procedure is performed by Pierre d'Hemecourt, MD, under ultrasound guidance.

Preventing tennis elbow

  • Perform warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after tennis play that includes stretching the muscles in the arm.
  • Use appropriately-sized tennis equipment. Racquet handles and heads that are too big or too small or strings that are too tight or too loose can put more stress on the elbow.
  • Evaluate poor tennis technique that may be contributing to the problem. Learn new ways to play that avoid repeated stress on the joints.
  • Keep your wrist straight during lifting activity.
  • Do strengthening exercises using hand weights.
  • Ice down your arm after heavy use.