Rest, ice and elevation are the best home treatments for tennis elbow. Taking over-the-counter pain medications and engaging in light stretching exercises can help as well.
As soon as the pain of tennis elbow begins, it is best to avoid any activity that may have caused the pain as well as any activity that increases the pain. Applying ice packs to the affected area for 10 or 15 minutes at a time several times a day helps relieve pain. Some people also find that applying heat to the painful area is helpful. Elevating the area helps alleviate swelling.
Over-the-counter oral pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, help lessen discomfort, while nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, treat inflammation as well as pain. Some NSAIDs come in cream form for topical application that helps soothe the pain.
To prevent stiffness of the affected tendons and muscles, it is best to stretch them gently, but if pain occurs, the individual should cease the exercises. As the tennis elbow pain diminishes over the course of days or weeks, engaging in strengthening and stretching exercises allows the affected muscles to regain their strength and flexibility. It is also important to learn the proper way to perform the activity that led to the tennis elbow to make recurrence of the condition less likely.