We have all been there at some point in time, and find ourselves on the side lines with an achy elbow unable to do even the simplest tasks. Lifting, pushing, and or merely waving can be painful endeavors that leave us frustrated. Tennis elbow comes from simple overuse of the tendons and surrounding muscles. Whatever has caused your tennis elbow, there are ways to find relief, and answers to your questions which I will talk about below.
The common description of tennis elbow or “lateral epicondylitis” is a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse. Tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The forearm muscles and tendons become damaged from overuse — repeating the same motions again and again. This leads to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. (Ortho Info, 1).
- Pain or burning on the outside of your elbow
- Weak grip strength
- Achy and stiff joints near the extensor tendons
- Pain the in the wrist
- Painful to shake hands
Before you take a trip to the doctor here are some home remedies that will ease your pain:
- Sufficient Rest. Allow at least 6-12 weeks for the tissues and tendons to repair.
- Gentle massage.
- Ice (for 20 minutes three times a day at least). *Tip: Fill up a Dixie cup, and freeze overnight. Once completely frozen, use this cup to rub around the irritated area of the elbow.
- Anti-inflammatory Medication or over the counter pain relievers. (Aspirin, or Ibuprofen)
- Stretching Exercises: Stretch your arm out straight, and bring your hand up (like you will give someone a high-five). With your opposite hand grab your extended arms fingertips and pull back toward you. This will give your forearm a good stretch. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Once finished, place your arm out straight in front, palm down and gently pull the hand towards you. These are two great stretches for tennis elbow. (Sports Injury Clinic, 1).
- Wearing an arm brace: This can ease some of the tension on your arm, and be a nice tool to aiding a quicker recovery.
- Check your equipment: A stiffer tennis racket with tight strings can put unwanted tension on your arm causing a flare up. Try switching to a more flexible racket, with a looser string pattern to put ease on your arm while healing. The tennis professionals in your area can give you racket and string recommendations.
If these remedies do not work for you, you will then want to see your doctor. They may conduct and MRI, X-Ray, or EMG (Nerve Compression) to see if anything more serious has happened to the tissues and tendons.
The Pro’s of Home Remedies:
- Non-surgical healing with quicker recovery time (No loss of strength, risk of infection, or loss of flexibility.)
- Cost effective
- Guidelines are easy to follow, and not as painful as surgery.
The Con’s of Home Remedies:
- The time it takes to properly heal tennis elbow can be extensive. (6-12 weeks).
- Patience is key, and recovery is slow making one feel like the pain will never go away.
- If rest is not taken seriously, the pain can become chronic.
To wrap up, the keys to making sure you are back on the tennis court pain free is simple. You need to ice, rest, and let your arm heal properly before putting more strain onto the tendons and tissues. Once you have rested and taken a good look at the equipment you are using, you can get back onto the court in no time! Remember, pushing through tennis elbow will only make it worse. Rest is key!
- Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)-OrthoInfo – AAOS. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00068
- Roizen, M. (2015, October 23). Heal Tennis Elbow With Some Time Off. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from https://www.arcamax.com/healthandspirit/health/youdocs/s-1739180
- Tennis Elbow. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from https://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/elbow-pain/tennis-elbow