Should you use ice or heat after a few months of recurring tennis elbow pain?

I’ve been to a cranky orth Dr. twice in the last year. He’s given me cortisone shots twice, and diag as lateral epiconodilitis (tennis elbow.) Also x-rayed it. Everything is clear. But the inflammation just doesn’t want to seem to go away. I’ve tried everything, including following his instructions. Maybe it’s time for a new doc. It gets stiff mainly in the morning, and was wondering before I try a new doc should I try heat, rather than ice?

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  1. geej1, 01 February, 2010

    Here’s my two cents on almost any tendonitis –

    Early on start with ice to the affected area (off and on when you can for 48 to 72 hours after the onset of problems. Acute swelling can be worsened by heat.
    Rest (no tennis or other exacerbating activity) for a while.

    After the acute period, heat may be beneficial – as long as you aren’t acutely re-activiating the original insult, heat mayy be ok. As with anything, if you try it a couple of times and it makes symptoms worse – stop.

    Inflammation has one consistent quality – the longer you have it, the longer it takes to resolve. My best advice is to get a plan of attack you are comfortable with trying, – which in this case may require the expertise of a new doc, and go with it. Look for a plan that focuses on getting you symptom free for increasing periods of time with less and less intervention.

    Also, a fresh look at your symptoms and exam may lead to a more refined diagnosis. Lots of stuff, I know, but the complexities of the human body, deserve complex thought and attention.

  2. vze2wy4t, 01 February, 2010

    Whatever works best for you, seems to be the medical consensus.

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