Medical Q&As

Tennis elbow - not improving?

My mother has been diagnosed with tennis elbow (about 2 weeks ago) even though she does not play any sport. She is 52 years of age and works on the farm full time. Her GP has given her 2 injections for the pain and she is taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets also. She is also wearing a strapping around her elbow. In the last two days her fingers have become numb. Can you give advise on this condition? How long is this pain going to last? Should she have physiotherapy on her arm?

I would suggest that your mother return to her GP because of the numbness she has recently developed. I would also suggest that she remove the strapping from her elbow because it might be contributing to the numbness. Tennis elbow is a very common problem and despite the name it does occur very frequently in non-tennis players. It is an “over use” syndrome and your mother’s work on the farm is the most likely cause of her symptoms. You might like to check out a previous Ask the Doctor answer on elbow problems that also includes a link to further articles on the subject, one of which contains an explanatory diagram on tennis elbow. The article can be accessed through the following link: http://www.irishhealth.com/askdoc03.html?f_qid=2764. I suspect that your mother may not have rested sufficiently after having the elbow injections. It is essential that the arm be rested for several days after the injection otherwise the treatment may not be effective. Physiotherapy is certainly a treatment option that could be explored but the immediate priority is for your mother to be examined again because of the recent onset of numbness.