Tennis Elbow in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Tennis elbow is soreness or pain on the outer part of the elbow. The pain occurs when the tendon is stretched and becomes irritated by repeated twisting of the hand, wrist, and forearm. A tendon is a tough tissue that connects muscle to bone. This injury is common in tennis players. But your child also can get it from many activities that work the same muscles. Examples include gardening, painting, and using tools.

Tennis elbow usually heals with rest and treatment at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Encourage your child to rest his or her fingers, wrist, and forearm. Try to stop or reduce any activity that causes elbow pain. Your child may have to rest the arm for weeks to months. Follow your doctor's directions for how long to rest.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the elbow for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • If your doctor gave you a brace or splint, use it as directed. A "counterforce" brace is a strap around the forearm, just below the elbow. It may ease the pressure on the tendon and may spread force throughout the arm.
  • Prop up the elbow on pillows to help reduce swelling.
  • Follow your doctor's or physiotherapist's directions for exercise.
  • Have your child return to usual activities slowly.
  • Try to prevent the problem. Have your child learn the best techniques for the sport. For example, make sure the grip on the tennis racquet is not too big for your child's hand. Encourage your child not to hit a tennis ball late in his or her swing.

Medicine

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your child may take anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), to reduce pain and swelling. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's pain is worse.
  • Your child cannot bend the elbow normally.
  • Your child's arm or hand is cool or pale or changes colour.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's pain is not better after 2 weeks.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 21, 2017