If tennis elbow is left untreated, the condition can worsen over time, leading to persistent pain and functional limitations. Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury that affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow. The condition is typically caused by repetitive gripping and wrist extension activities, not just tennis, as the name suggests.
Here are some potential consequences of leaving tennis elbow untreated:
- Chronic Pain: The pain associated with tennis elbow can become chronic and persistent if the underlying causes are not addressed. The pain may start to interfere with daily activities, work, and sports.
- Limited Range of Motion: Untreated tennis elbow can cause stiffness and reduced range of motion in the affected arm, making it difficult to perform simple tasks and movements.
- Weakness in the Arm: As the condition progresses, weakness in the forearm and grip strength may develop due to the ongoing strain on the affected tendons.
- Functional Impairment: Tennis elbow can impact functional abilities, making it challenging to grasp objects, lift, carry, or perform repetitive arm movements.
- Loss of Productivity: Tennis elbow can affect work performance and productivity, especially in jobs that require repetitive arm use or lifting.
- Dependence on the Non-Affected Arm: Individuals with untreated tennis elbow may unintentionally overuse their non-affected arm, potentially leading to overuse injuries in that arm as well.
- Injury to Other Structures: Overcompensation and altered movement patterns due to tennis elbow can increase the risk of injury to other structures, such as the shoulder or upper back.
- Longer Recovery Time: Delaying treatment can prolong the recovery process, as chronic and severe cases may require more extensive interventions to address the condition effectively.
Early intervention and appropriate treatment are essential for managing tennis elbow effectively. If you suspect you have tennis elbow or are experiencing persistent elbow pain, it’s crucial to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional or a physical therapist. They can provide a proper diagnosis, recommend suitable treatments, and help you develop a plan to address the underlying causes and prevent further progression of the condition. Treatment for tennis elbow may include rest, ice, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, braces or splints, and, in severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery.