You don’t have to be a tennis star to develop pain in your elbow known as tennis elbow; in fact, you could’ve never played tennis before! Tennis elbow is the common name for a painful condition called lateral epicondylitis, which refers to pain and irritation in the tendons that connect your forearm to your elbow called the lateral epicondyle. Tennis elbow is a particular type of pain that affects the outside of your elbow and can radiate into the forearms or wrists. Many treatment options are available for tennis elbow, including at-home remedies and physiotherapy.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow occurs due to repetitive motions and overuse of the tendons that connect your muscles to your elbow. When you repeatedly use your forearm muscles to straighten or raise your hand and wrist it can put stress on the tissue, causing tiny tears and muscle strain. The most obvious cause of tennis elbow is overuse and poor technique in racquet sports like the backhand stroke in tennis. You can also develop tennis elbow during other sports and activities that involve repetitive arm movements. Tennis elbow can elso be a kind of work injury. For example, jobs in plumbing and carpentry that put require you to use repetitive wrist and forearm movements can cause tennis elbow.
What Treatments Help with Tennis Elbow?
It is possible for mild cases of tennis elbow to go away on its own without treatment. However, tennis elbow can reoccur if you still participate in the activity that was aggravating the tendons and causing pain. If you must continue with these activities because of your job then certain treatments can help you manage the pain, strengthen your muscles, and provide more stability in your arm, elbow, and wrist.
Here are 3 effective treatment options to consider for tennis elbow.
1. At-Home Rest and Ice Therapy
The most effective way to treat tennis elbow once you notice the pain is to rest the area as soon as possible. Because the primary causes of tennis elbow are repetitive motions and overuse, taking a break from those movements will give your muscles and tendons a chance to rest and recover. If any swelling or inflammation occurs, resting the affected area will also give the body time to heal. Icing the area can also help to alleviate pain and reduce swelling and inflammation. Applying ice to an injury temporarily decreases blood flow to the area to prevent further swelling and inflammation. If your joints and muscles become stiff with overuse, you may also alternate ice therapy with heat therapy to help soothe aches and stiffness.
2. Learning New Techniques
Sometimes tennis elbow occurs because of poor form or technique, especially if you develop tennis elbow through participating in a sport or activity like tennis. The backhand stroke in tennis is commonly used and can contribute to tennis elbow pain, especially if performed incorrectly. Talk to a trainer or professional for tips and support on how to adjust your technique and avoid aggravating your muscles and tendons. If you develop tennis elbow due to repetitive motions on the job, like painting or using a wrench, then you may also want to talk to your doctor about supportive devices like arm, elbow, or wrist braces to help provide you with the support you need to complete your tasks without aggravating your tennis elbow. It helps to identify what specific motions exacerbate the tennis elbow pain and whether there are alternate movements that can accomplish the same goal without causing you discomfort.
3. Physiotherapy Stretches & Exercises
When tennis elbow affects your ability to complete daily tasks without experiencing severe elbow pain or being unable to grip objects without dropping them then it’s definitely time for physiotherapy. Even before your symptoms get this extreme, a physical therapist can identify stretches and exercises that will help you experience long-term pain relief by strengthening your muscles, improving your flexibility, and increasing your range of motion. As your muscles get stronger, they are able to better support your arms, elbows, and wrists, as you perform daily tasks. Stronger muscles also help provide more stability, helping with your grip and wrist strength.
If you have tennis elbow and aren’t sure what to do next, visit us at AICA Orthopedics in Marietta for treatments tailored to your symptoms and needs. Aside from chiropractor care that help office workers to avoid common injuries, we also have a multi-specialty team of health care providers that offers physiotherapy to help you experience long-term relief and recovery from tennis elbow.