The Best Pain Killers for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that involves the inflammation of tendons that attach to the lateral elbow, or on the outside of the elbow, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Inflamed tendons can cause pain during movement or tenderness when touched. Excessive tennis playing or other repetitive movements that involve the elbow increase the risk for developing tennis elbow. Conservative treatments, including pain killers, are preferred to treat the symptoms of tennis elbow.

Man with a wrapped elbow (Image: komkrich007/iStock/Getty Images)


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly called NSAIDs, can be used to treat pain associated with tennis elbow, according to the Mayo Clinic. NSAIDs are available over the counter and include Aleve, Advil, Motrin and aspirin. These medications are effective in treating pain because they reduce chemical signals that are related to pain and inflammation. Therefore, the brain senses less pain and the reduction in inflammation over the elbow can also reduce pain. These medications must be taken as directed on the drug label to prevent side effects. Furthermore, patients with a history of stomach, liver, heart or kidney problems should not take these medications. A doctor should be consulted if these medications do not provide pain relief after a few days.

Topical Capsaicin Cream states that capsaicin cream is a topical analgesic that can be used to treat joint pain. Therefore, capsaicin cream can be used to treat joint pain associated with tennis elbow. Capsaicin is a natural ingredient in hot peppers. When applied to the skin, capsaicin cream releases chemicals that are related to pain from the body. A patient will notice a burning sensation for a few minutes that should be followed by pain relief. This medication should not be used in conjunction with a heating pad. Furthermore, a patient should immediately wash his hands after applying capsaicin cream to his elbow. Capsaicin cream must be used regularly until tennis elbow pain is resolved.

Corticosteroid Injection

In more severe cases of tennis elbow, a corticosteroid injection may provide pain relief, states the Mayo Clinic. Corticosteroids reduce pain, inflammation and swelling of the inflamed elbow tendons. Few side effects are associated with injected corticosteroids, but results vary between patients. Some patients report immediate relief, while other patients do not notice any benefit over physical therapy, according to the Mayo Clinic. The doctor may administer multiple injections, up to three per year, until the medication provides relief.

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