Tennis Elbow in Children: Care Instructions

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Tennis elbow anatomy: side view

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Encourage your child to rest his or her fingers, wrist, and forearm. Try to stop or reduce any activity that causes elbow pain. Your child may have to rest the arm for weeks to months. Follow your doctor's directions for how long to rest.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the elbow for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin. You can try heat, or alternating heat and ice, after the first 3 days.
  • If your doctor gave you a brace or splint, use it as directed. A "counterforce" brace is a strap around the forearm, just below the elbow. It may ease the pressure on the tendon and may spread force throughout the arm.
  • Prop up the elbow on pillows to help reduce swelling.
  • Follow your doctor's or physical therapist's directions for exercise.
  • Have your child return to usual activities slowly.
  • Try to prevent the problem. Have your child learn the best techniques for the sport. For example, make sure the grip on the tennis racquet is not too big for your child's hand. Encourage your child not to hit a tennis ball late in his or her swing.


  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your child may take anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), to reduce pain and swelling. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's pain is worse.
  • Your child cannot bend the elbow normally.
  • Your child's arm or hand is cool or pale or changes color.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child's pain is not better after 2 weeks.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.