Can Botox do more than treat facial lines and wrinkles? A new study carried out at Tehran University in Iran and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that injecting Botox toxin into an elbow could help relieve tennis elbow pain.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow, also know as lateral epiocondylitis, is a condition where the tendons that cover the elbow become inflamed from overuse. Although this condition is frequently diagnosed in tennis players, it’s also seen in golfers, bowlers, pitchers, or anyone who does repetitive activity involving the forearms. This condition is surprisingly common – and, often, quite painful.
How is Tennis Elbow Pain Treated?
Most doctors recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and ice to reduce the inflammation of tennis elbow. Once the pain is under control, exercises to strengthen the muscles that protect the elbow are usually recommended. In some resistant cases, cortisone may be injected into the inflamed area to reduce the pain. In a small number of patients, surgery may be needed to treat a stubborn case of tennis elbow. Some doctors recommend wearing an elbow brace to help stabilize the muscles and provide support.
Tennis Elbow Pain That Won’t Go Away
Only about five percent of people with the symptoms of tennis elbow require surgery. Unfortunately, tennis elbow surgery can take a person off the field or out of their job for up to three months. In these cases, Botox injections into the area might offer a “last ditch” way to treat the tennis elbow without surgery. Botox helps to relax the muscles that are tight due to the inflammation.
The Problems of Using Botox for Treatment of Tennis Elbow
The problem with using Botox injections for the symptoms of tennis elbow is it can cause temporary paralysis – from an improper injection technique. Another problem with this treatment is that it can make extension of the fingers more difficult even when the injection is done properly. Plus, it’s also not clear whether the pain returns once the Botox wears off in about four months.
Botox for Tennis Elbow Pain: The Bottom Line?
More research is needed before Botox injections can be considered a safe treatment for tennis elbow. It might be a reasonable treatment in cases where other treatments have failed and the only remaining option is surgery. In such a case, it would be important to find a doctor competent in doing these injections. Botox for treating tennis elbow isn’t ready for prime time just yet.