The duration of physical therapy (PT) for tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) can vary depending on the severity of the condition, how well the individual responds to treatment, and their adherence to the recommended exercises and therapy. Generally, the duration of PT for tennis elbow may range from a few weeks to several months.
In most cases, PT for tennis elbow involves an initial evaluation by a physical therapist to assess the extent of the injury and develop a personalized treatment plan. The treatment plan typically includes a combination of the following:
- Pain Relief: Initially, the focus may be on reducing pain and inflammation through modalities such as ice, heat, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation.
- Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: The physical therapist will prescribe specific exercises to stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles, tendons, and surrounding muscles. These exercises help promote healing, restore normal function, and prevent recurrence.
- Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques, such as soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization, may be used to improve joint and soft tissue mobility and reduce muscle tension.
- Activity Modification: The physical therapist may provide guidance on modifying activities and ergonomics to prevent further strain on the affected area.
- Progressive Rehabilitation: As the individual’s condition improves, the physical therapist will gradually advance the exercises and therapies to support the individual’s return to regular activities and sports.
The frequency of PT sessions can vary, with most individuals attending sessions once or twice a week. The total duration of PT can be influenced by factors such as the individual’s commitment to the prescribed exercises and lifestyle modifications and the response to treatment.
It’s essential to follow the physical therapist’s guidance consistently and to communicate any changes in symptoms or concerns throughout the course of treatment. With appropriate care and diligent adherence to the treatment plan, many individuals experience significant improvement in their tennis elbow within a few weeks to a couple of months. However, each case is unique, and the timeline for recovery can differ from person to person.