How to Treat a Tennis Elbow?
You don’t have to be a tennis player to get “tennis elbow”, it is a term that came to be because many tennis players get to have this problem. It is no rocket science to learn how to treat a tennis elbow. The right therapy and rest should help relieve any discomfort you could be feeling.
Let’s see what causes tennis elbow: When you overuse the muscles in your arm for sudden and rapid movements can cause a subtle or abrupt injury on the forearm muscles and tendon surrounding the elbow, precisely in the area where they attach to the outer bony side of the elbow. The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis and could also affect the inner side of the elbow. For obvious reasons it is most commonly seen on the patient’s dominant arm but could happen on the other for whichever reason the patient uses it. A person affected by tennis elbow might feel the pain slowly increasing as time passes, it tends to get more acute when there is too much pressure while squeezing an object, shaking hands or if it’s gotten to the point where the pain is at its worse state, holding simple objects like a toothbrush or a fork, could be a very painful experience.
So here is how to treat a tennis elbow:
- Reduce the inflammation. Apply ice or a cold pack directly on the elbow.
- Rest the arm. Avoid any movement or force activity with the affected arm and wrist.
- If appropriate, take anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen.
- If this was caused by practicing a sport, try checking your technique or use the right equipment.
- Use an elbow support brace or a tennis elbow compression support strap to help the healing process and relieve the pain.
- Try TENS therapy. A non-invasive alternative, uses two electrodes, one above the elbow and the other right on the forearm not directly on the affected area. A very low current travels to the electrodes and through the skin to the nerves causing the discomfort, this blocks the sensation of pain. It also reduces the inflammation and increases the blood flow to the affected area. Use as recommended by your doctor or physical therapist, it can be used in different times of the day or when pain strikes. You can leave the electrodes on and use whenever prescribed, TENS units are portable devices powered by regular batteries.
Try to prevent and avoid movements that you know could cause tennis elbow and if related to a sport, study what could be causing this pain. It is also important to always consult with your practitioner about this condition and ask him or her for a personalized treatment. I am no doctor nor specialist, please make sure to ask your healthcare provider before trying any of these options on how to treat a tennis elbow.