You don’t have to play tennis to experience tennis elbow. The condition, which is known in medical circles as lateral epicondylitis, can cause excruciating pain and limit your ability to use the arm.
It usually occurs on a patient’s dominant arm, with symptoms initiating at the outer elbow and building over weeks and months. Eventually, the individual loses strength, and pain is experienced in the forearm and wrist as well.
Steps you can take at home
When you first start to experience tennis elbow, many people find that various do-it-yourself strategies help. If you want to target your own elbow pain effectively, the first and most pivotal step is to reduce activities that are irritating your elbow.
“The more you overload an irritated structure, the more you will feed that irritation,” says Irish physical therapist Andrew O’Brien.
Three other strategies recommended by O’Brien to reduce elbow pain are:
· Ice or cold packs: Apply for 15 minutes at a time.
· Self-massage: Gently knead the area of discomfort
· Stretching: Hold your right arm straight out in front of you. Bend at the wrist so that your fingers point toward the floor. Take your left hand and carefully increase the bend. Maintain the position for 5 seconds. Now bring the left hand under the right fingers and gradually push them up until they are pointing at the ceiling. Again, hold for 5 seconds.
Additional factors to consider
You will make a lot more progress mitigating the pain of tennis elbow if you look at contributing causes. For instance, a nerve in your neck may be compressed. You also may need to condition your shoulders so that they can better support the forearm.
Furthermore, it’s essential to look at job activities to determine if your work environment is leading to repetitive strain. You want your workspace to espouse the guidelines of ergonomics. Essentially, your eyes should be level with the top of your computer screen, your back should be straight, and your knees and elbows should be at right angles.
Being proactive with tennis elbow
Many people find relief by using at-home treatments and reorganizing their workspaces. However, O’Brien advises not to procrastinate seeking professional help. “If your pain isn’t relieved by rest, icing and stretching, or if you have pain referring into the hand or pins and needles,” he says, “then you really need to see a chartered physiotherapist or your doctor.”
At Advanced Wellness and Rehab, our physical therapy team works to correct the musculoskeletal imbalances that promote elbow pain and inflammation. We achieve immediate and long-lasting relief through individually customized treatment plans. Learn more.