How do you know if you’ve got Tennis Elbow, also known as golfers elbow?
First, you do not need to have played either tennis or golf to be struck with this annoying condition. Second you can usually self diagnose Tennis Elbow because the pain in your forearm includes pain at the elbow joint. Third, if using your arm and elbow cause pain as you exert force, it’s likely Tennis Elbow is your problem. You’ll experience weakened strength in your hand and arm.
Tennis Elbow pain starts at the Elbow and travels all the way down your forearm to the wrist. It often hurts to shake hands, turn door handles or grab your coffee mug. The pin in the forearm is the worst and it feels deep inside.
You’ll find your arm cannot do what it usually does without pain and you’ll remember what’s OK and what hurts. I have recently been struck with Tennis Elbow and while not the worst of injuries it can be a little debilitating and annoying in your day to day life. It hurts too!
The medical term for Tennis Elbow is Lateral Epicondylitis
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Overuse of the muscles causes strain in the elbow joint and muscles. So imagine playing tennis or golf and think how many times your elbow is used, your fist is gripping tight and it’s accentuated by forceful action. It stretches the tendons and causes them to get tired, inflamed and tight.
It is a repetitive stress injury. Computer mouse use is a common cause. If you paint, cook, use your hands as a plumber or electrician, you can get Tennis Elbow. Any constant activity that involves using your elbow, wrist, and arm together may cause tennis elbow. It usually affects your primary usage arm.
What Does Having Tennis Elbow Feel Like?
- While your arm is at rest there is no pain at all.
- If you press against your elbow joint at the outside on the bony part it will feel like a bruise does, it will hurt.
- Your arm and hand will feel weaker than usual.
- Depending on the use of your forearm and wrist you’ll feel shooting hot pains running through the muscles.
- If you extend your arm straight it will hurt.
- Extend your arm straight after sleep may be very hard to do as your arm is stiff to begin.
You may have tennis elbow for quite a while before realizing you have the problem. I have three retriever dogs and use a ball launcher to throw balls for them to retrieve. I noticed some elbow pain over a year before it became Tennis Elbow this year. I stopped throwing balls but the constant repetition of computer mouse work sealed the deal. Although I have started helping my tennis elbow I am now noticing the weakness in my hand and arm.
How To Treat Tennis Elbow
The best Tennis Elbow cure is rest. That is hard to achieve all day long so prevention of aggravating the injury is a good starting remedy for tennis elbow.
If you catch it early you might be lucky enough to get away with some ice and heat treatments and some anti-inflammatory analgesics for a quick fix. The reality is that this condition develops over time and you won’t be able to cure tennis elbow fast. Because it is an injury you may not be able to cure it.
Once you’ve realized you are suffering my first tip is to start using your other arm a lot more. You don’t need to become ambidextrous but there are many things you do daily that can switch to the other arm. Here are some things to switch:
- Opening doors.
- Grabbing your coffee or tea mug.
- Lifting anything!
- Try to engage your shoulders in movements more.
- Push and pull with your other arm when possible.
- Use hairdryer in the other hand.
- Pick up your mile carton with the other hand and so on.
It won’t take long to remember to engage the use of your other arm as much as possible. Pulling, pushing, grabbing are the functions that will cause you to feel pain the most.
The healing time for Tennis Elbow can be 4-12 months.
Exercises To Help You Heal
When you have the early stages of tennis elbow I would not recommend any exercises at all. You need to get past the pain and let your muscles rest. I’ve been resting my tennis elbow now for over 2 weeks and am now going to start some exercises in the hope of helping it heal.
I searched for lateral epicondylitis exercises and found a great video by two physical therapists. It seemed logical to add that here for you to watch. I am going to follow their exercises. Start your exercise for tennis elbow relief today with me.
Wearing a Brace or Strap
There are plenty of tennis elbow braces and supports to buy. I always say the best brace for tennis elbow is the one you’ll use. So don’t buy one if the look of it turns you off, or if it won’t fit under your clothes.
There are many elbow braces for tennis elbow and this is the one I decided to buy. For under $15 I got a pack of two.
This item is recommended at Amazon and has great reviews. I am pleased with it. I use kinesiology tape down the long arm muscles and have this on top. It does not have to be tight, you place it about 3 finger-widths down on your arm on top of the biggest arm muscle. It works well. It supports the muscles but because I can feel it, I am reminded not to use my arm too much.
You might decide to use a tennis elbow compression sleeve instead. While I have not tried one yet, it looks a great choice to fit under a shirt and provide all-round elbow and arm support.
Kinesio Tape (KT). My favorite is the cotton-based KT which lasts for days and does not come off in the shower. I am using Kinesio tape for my tennis elbow and while skeptical at first I was pleasantly surprised at its help. It gave me a surprising amount of Tennis Elbow relief.
Here’s a video on how and where to apply KT as one of many Tennis Elbow home remedies. Tennis Elbow taping is easy and you can do it yourself with one hand.
When to See The Doctor
If you’re at home Tennis Elbow home remedies including ice, heat and rest are not making a difference it may be time to see the Doctor. As will all injuries there are varying degrees and yours may need extra help.
He may give you a cortisone shot for Tennis Elbow. He may suggest injecting platelet-rich plasma, Botox or some form of an irritant (prolotherapy) into the tendon.
Other treatments may include Ultrasonic Tenotomy which is a needle inserted using Ultrasound waves and it removes the damaged tissue by pulverizing it.
If after 6-12 months of other therapies fail to resolve your Tennis Elbow, the surgery may become your only option. Tennis Elbow surgery also removes the damaged tissue. You’ll need to do rehabilitation exercises to achieve a full recovery.
Tennis Elbow surgery recovery time is not quick. You’ll need another 3-6 months post-surgery before you feel the relief and get your arm and elbow strength back. The surgery needs to heal and you must add PT to aid your recovery.
Acupuncture for tennis elbow is something you can try. A study at the Science and Experiment Center of Guangzhou Physical Education Institute, with 3 groups of patients all showed signs of improvement or cure after 20 sessions. Each session was 10 days long with a 2 day rest period between. The most effective method was acupuncture combined with massage.
This post first appeared on Health And Life | We Explain Complex Medical Stuff, please read the originial post: here