While tennis elbow can be painful, there are few things you can do at home to relieve your symptoms and prevent it from worsening.
7 effective ways get rid tennis elbow pain
- Rest: Resting your arm is a simple yet effective way to reduce pain and inflammation. Restricting your movements will avoid putting additional strain on the affected tendon.
- Ice: Cover an ice bag in a cloth or a towel before applying it on the affected elbow, several times a day or until the pain is gone.
- Compression: Use an elbow strap or bandage to provide support to the fatigued muscle. This will reduce inflammation and promote healing.
- Stretch: Extend the affected arm. Using your other hand, pull your fingers back toward your body for 15 seconds. Relax, then repeat the stretch. This will increase the mobility of the arm and strengthen your muscles.
- Over-the-counter painkillers: Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help ease pain and swelling. If your pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Topical painkillers, such as creams and gels, may also help.
- Braces or splints: Wearing a brace or splint can help support the inflamed tendon.
- Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy for the inflamed tendon along with ultrasonic therapy or infrared light pulse therapy may help relieve swelling.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is characterized by pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow that radiates down the forearm and increases when:
- Gripping objects
- Bending the arm
- Lifting weights
- Twisting the forearm (such as opening a jar lid)
- Raising the hand
- Straightening the wrist
Tennis elbow is common, affecting almost 1%-3% of the population. While it can affect people of any age group, people ages 40 and over are most at risk.
What causes tennis elbow?
The most common cause of tennis elbow is overuse of muscle and weakness of muscles. As the name suggests, it is often caused by playing tennis or other sports that involve repetitive, forceful movements of the arm. The condition is also common among people who do carpentry, painting, typing, or knitting.
Tennis elbow is a type of tendinitis, or inflammation of the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon. A tendon is a fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone.
Overuse or can strain the muscles attached to the elbow and lead to tiny, microscopic tears and inflammation near the lateral epicondyle of the elbow, causing pain, stiffness, and restricted movements.
Does tennis elbow go away on its own?
Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, typically lasting for 6 months to 2 years. Most people will fully recover within a year. However, repeated trauma or insufficient rest may aggravate the condition.
Make sure to warm up and stretch often, analyze which movements tend to hurt more, and try to avoid them as far as possible.
Although tennis elbow will get better without treatment, the following therapies can help improve motility and speed of recovery:
- Physiotherapy: Manual therapy techniques, such as massage and ultrasonic pulses, can improve blood flow to the arm and relieve pain and stiffness.
- Steroid injections (containing cortisol hormone): In severe cases, steroid injections are prescribed when other treatments fail to work. These injections provide short-term relief from symptoms; however, they are not as effective for long-term use.
- Shock wave therapy: This is a noninvasive treatment that uses minute shock waves that pass through the skin and promote movement. While considered safe, minor side effects, such as redness and bruising of the skin, may occur.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections: This procedure separates plasma cells from your blood sample and injects it into the affected joint.
- Surgery: In rare cases where pain is severe and persistent, surgery may be recommended to remove the damaged part of the affected tendon.
WebMD. Tennis elbow. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/tennis-elbow-lateral-epicondylitis#1-2
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Lateral Epicondylitis. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/lateral-epicondylitis-tennis-elbow
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Tennis Elbow. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/tennis-elbow-lateral-epicondylitis/
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