For those who have Tennis elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis it is no laughing matter. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it is the most widespread overuse injury of the adult elbow. It can be quite painful and debilitating for some people if not treated properly.
Common causes can range from simply gripping a racket handle too tight, using an inadequate grip size, poor backhand technique, or using a racquet that is too heavy. Although not limited to only racquet sport athletes, Tennis Elbow can affect anyone who performs repetitive motion activities with their arms and it is aggravated with gripping, turning or bending of the wrist. For example, those who work on a computer all day can be prone to Tennis Elbow. Having an ergonomic assesment can help pin point ways to help eleviate any pain. At times, some nerve problems in the neck can cause pain in the elbow that is similar to Tennis Elbow. It is best to see your physician and have a proper assesment to determine the cause of the pain.
If an injury is identified and treated in the early stages, the chances of complete recovery are greatly improved. But if it is left untreated, it can become chronic. Once an injury enters the chronic phase, it can last months, even years.
As with any injury, the best course of action is PRICE: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Although you can not see anything wrong on the outside, Tennis Elbow is no different than any other injury. Initially, begin with the following protocol:
Rest. Because this is an overuse injury, you need to rest the arm. If you play a racquet sport, stop playing for a few weeks to see if the pain and inflammation settle down. If you work at a computer, have an ergonomic assesment done as soon as possible to identify ways to eleviate a potential problem.
Ice. As with any injury, to control the inflammation you should apply an ice pack. For Tennis Elbow, applying an ice pack for 20 minutes up to 4 times a day is often recommended. For those who are unfamiliar with the correct protocol, you should place a thin towel between the ice pack and your skin to prevent frost bite.
Wear a Tennis Elbow Strap. These straps can be very effective in reducing the strain on the tendon. You will want to wear the strap when you are performing an activity that may aggravate your elbow; for example some people have found it very effective during their workouts, working on the computer and during racquet sports.
Physiotherapy. By beginning physiotherapy right away, you have a greater chance of resolving the issue in the early stages.
Prolotherapy. Naturopathic doctors have had a lot of success using this natural injection therapy for Tennis Elbow and various other types of injuries. This may be an option for those with more severe cases.
Although Tennis Elbow can be a nagging issue if ignored, by getting it assesed and treated right away, it can be a thing of the past. Take care of yourself so you can do the things you love, pain free.