Treating tennis elbow
Game, set match! Millions of people love the thrill of watching a good tennis game. Whether you’re sat courtside or home on the couch, a tense tennis match can have you on the edge of your seat and even inspire you to go grab a racket of your own – unless, of course, you suffer from tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow (technically referred to as Lateral Epicondylitis) refers to pain of the elbow joint caused by inflammation or tearing of the tendons on the outer region of the elbow joint, which affects the movement of the elbow and can be quite painful. Despite its name, tennis elbow isn’t just caused by tennis. Other sports such as canoeing, rowing, swimming and weightlifting – as well as occupational activities that involve repetitive use of the elbow joint – can cause this type of injury.
Telltale signs of tennis elbow include pain in the elbow, particularly when the arm is straightened, pain when stretching out the fingers or making a fist, difficulty gripping objects, and a dull ache when the arm is not is use.
But before you hang up your tennis racquet in defeat, discover some of the treatments and prevention tactics and you might be back playing tennis before the Olympics close.
As we all know, prevention is better than cure, so being familiar with a few ways to help reduce the risk of getting tennis elbow will help keep your elbow joints in good working order.
- Always warm up before doing any exercise or repetitive movements.
- Apply a heat rub prior to exercising to help warm up the joints and lessen the likelihood of injury.
- If you do play tennis, invest in a couple of sessions with a professional coach to make sure your technique is not likely to cause tennis elbow.
- Incorporate strengthening exercises into your weekly fitness regime. General arm strengthening exercises using hand weights can help protect the muscles against injury.
- When lifting, be mindful of using good technique to avoid placing unnecessary stress on the elbow joint.
- Rest is equally as important as regular exercise and stretching as fatigued muscles and tendons lead to injury. Take time out to kick back.
- Always warm down after exercising to help stretch out the muscles.
- If you are prone to tennis elbow, wear a support band to lessen the likelihood of injury and if you do encounter any pain or aches, apply an ice pack to reduce inflammation.
If you’re unfortunate enough to encounter the bothersome ache and pain that goes hand in hand with tennis elbow you’ll want a fast and effective treatment so that you can return to the court quick smart.
How to treat tennis elbow
The first step in treating tennis elbow is to reduce the inflammation. Rest, anti-inflammatory medication, an ice pack (apply to the elbow joint for 10-15minutes) or the use of a compression can all help to reduce swelling.
The most obvious way to address the pain of tennis elbow is to use analgesics, but you can also try hot and cold packs as this method can help reduce inflammation while the heat may provide some pain relief.
Alternative options include a visit to a physiotherapist or chiropractor, an acupuncturist or a massage therapist – but the first option should be rest and then assess.
by Leanne Philpott