What is tennis elbow
Before we discuss the various treatments for tennis elbow, we need to explore what it is.
The quickest way to identify it is by locating where on the elbow you feel the pain. You will tend to feel the discomfort on the outside of the elbow.
Obviously, it occurs a lot in tennis players, hence the name. But it can also be brought on by repetitive movements like decorating or playing an instrument.
It is very much an overuse injury and is caused by overworking the muscles and tendons of the forearm.
You may feel it most when bending the arm, twisting the arm or picking up small objects like coins.
What causes tennis elbow?
If you put too much strain on the muscles and tendons of the forearm it can cause microtrauma. Essentially, these are small tears to the muscles or tendons surrounding the elbow. This, in turn, can create inflammation that becomes painful and restrictive.
If you overdo it with a new hobby, especially racquet sports, you can be asking for trouble. But also, the trauma can be caused by bad technique and poor biomechanics. Although there are plenty of ways to treat tennis elbow, getting coaching on good technique can help prevent it before it happens. It is worth the investment.
Immediate treatments for tennis elbow
The most important first step is to cease the activity that created the problem. This means having a period of complete rest. It can be frustrating if the activity is a hobby you particularly enjoy, but the rest is vital.
Then, as a means of managing the inflammation, you should hold a cold compress against your elbow for a few minutes at a time. This should be done a few times a day. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin tea towel can act as a makeshift compress.
(In some instances, you may want to use paracetamol or Ibuprofen to reduce the pain).
Further treatments for tennis elbow
Physiotherapy can be a great way to recuperate and rehabilitate from tennis elbow. It is a great way to restore function and movement to the joint. And especially designated follow up exercises and stretches will help safeguard against a recurrence of the injury.
Often, problems in the elbow are caused by biomechanical restrictions caused by tensions in other parts of the body. Treatments such as osteopathy often look at the bigger picture. They might, for example, find that by addressing problems in areas such as the upper back, neck and shoulders they can reduce pressure on the elbow.
In addition, massage therapists have a range of options to help treat the condition. They might use any combination of deep tissue work, myofascial release, acupressure or cross-fibre friction for treatment.
All of these therapies can show a demonstrable improvement in symptoms.
A final word
Whatever you do, don’t let tennis elbow go untreated. If ignored, the pain can worsen and may even spread down the forearm and affect the wrists.
For more information on which options will best suit you, contact us.