Tennis elbow is a painful nuisance that can make everyday tasks quite tricky. Contrary to its name, tennis elbow can occur in anyone, not just tennis players. How is it caused? What can you do to treat it? Do you need to rest it, or use a tennis elbow brace? When do you need to see a doctor?
The pain caused by tennis elbow occurs when the muscles and tendons on the outside area of the elbow become inflamed or begin to degenerate due to injury.
Tennis elbow can be caused by many repetitive or straining wrist and arm movements. Activities that require a lot of force from the arm (such as using a manual screwdriver, weight lifting, or vacuuming) often cause tennis elbow because of the repeated stress forced on the arm. Tennis players can develop tennis elbow by holding the racket incorrectly, which causes much of the force to be absorbed by tendons in the elbow rather than the entire arm.
Tennis elbow usually begins with a slowly increasing pain around the outer elbow that is more noticeable during lifting or squeezing motions. Activities that require force exerted from the elbow (such as unscrewing a tight lid on a jar) can cause a flare of pain, as well as repetitive movements (shaking hands or brushing teeth). Tennis elbow is not usually diagnosed with x-rays, but rather by the symptoms you are experiencing. X-rays may be used to rule out other elbow injuries such as UCL injury, bursitis, and torn muscles.
Tennis elbow may be treated at home in early stages, with the RICE formula-rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If the area is inflamed, ice may be applied for 15-minute intervals up to six times a day. A doctor or specialist can determine if other treatments are necessary. These may include physical therapy, the use of an elbow brace, topical cortisone or anti-inflammatory gels, cortisone injections, laser treatment, massage therapy, and acupuncture.
A few weeks after the pain has been addressed, a patient may begin exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the elbow. Some common exercises include:
Ball or Sock Squeeze
Hold a tennis ball or rolled up sock in your hand, and squeeze for 6 seconds, then release for 10 seconds. Complete 8-12 repetitions in each hand.
Sit with your arm on a table, wrist hanging over the edge. Make a hand-shaking motion, repeating 8-12 times with each hand.
Rest your forearm on a table, hand hanging over edge. Using a 1-2 pound weight, slowly lift your hand up and down, palm facing up. Repeat 8-12 times with each arm. Then repeat exercise with palm facing down.
Sit in a chair, left hand on left thigh, right elbow on right thigh, holding a weight in your right hand. Right forearm should be horizontal to the floor. Curl the weight up to your chest, repeating 8-12 times with each arm.
Tennis elbow can be painful, and it can make both sports and everyday activities difficult. It is important to identify and treat tennis elbow early to avoid complications. Always consult with your physician to find the appropriate treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our elbow brace products.