Tennis elbow is a disease that strikes anyone who has overused a specific repetitive motion in their elbow. While common in tennis players, it can strike people who have been kayaking, hammering, or any other intense physical activity. Treating it requires a careful application of mostly heat therapy. While it won't cure the condition entirely, it can speed the healing process. This blog will help you understand why you should treat tennis elbow injuries instead of with alternating treatments of cold and heat.
Why Heat Instead Of Cold?
Although applying cold to your elbow will help alleviate some pain, heat is better for the long-term care of tennis elbow. Why? Heat actually promotes the flow of blood in your body by relaxing and expanding your muscles. That extra blood flow will help strengthen the healing process and promote an elbow that is relatively free of pain in a short period of time.
Cold is best utilized as a temporary solution, one that you use immediately after noticing symptoms. It will help immediately bring down the swelling associated with tennis elbow and help you feel better more quickly than heat. However, cold treatments should be limited to just a few days after the initial injury and should only be applied for half an hour or less at a time. In that way, you'll frost bite.
The Treatment Method
Start by running a wash rag under hot water for several seconds and then ringing it out. Apply the rag to your elbow for several minutes, at least as long as it takes for the rag to run out of heat. Repeat this process three or four times to slowly acclimate your elbow to heat. After about five minutes, you should put your rag away, wipe off your elbow, and prepare to utilize a heating pad.
While you are warming your elbow with a rag, turn on a heat pad to about 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Any warmer, and you risk being burned. Any cooler and you won't get any benefits. Apply the pad directly to your elbow, wrapping it around as much of the elbow as possible. Keep your elbow as still as possible during the process to maximize its effectiveness.
After you are finished with about 15-30 minutes of this, remove the pad, turn it off, and repeat a few simple stretches. Don't push your elbow beyond the comfort range. Simply move it from side to side to flex your muscles and to promote a little more blood flow. This should help relax the aching muscles, reduce your elbow inflammation, and keep your injury from becoming worse.
Why Not Use Heat Constantly?
People that put heat on their elbow for longer than 15-30 minutes a day run the risk of causing damage to their skin and their muscles. Remember: even if heat is helping blood flow to your injury, it's also affecting the muscles in other ways. The heat of a heating pad may cause a painful skin burn that will require medical attention.
They can also cause the muscles in your injury to expand too much. This will have the effect of actually exasperating your injury and causing more problems than it is worth. Avoid this by limiting your exposure to heat. Even if you really feel better after the treatment period, it's best to play it safe by avoiding injury.
By carefully using this treatment method, you will help your body recovery from tennis elbow and will feel better much more quickly. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us today. We will help you find effective ways of treating all sorts of injuries.