Contrary to its name, you can develop this condition even if you do not play tennis.
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You may feel pain or stiffness on the outside of your lower arm after playing tennis or doing activities that require repetitive wrist movement. The pain may go away even without treatment, but the condition often comes back.
If you think that you have tennis elbow, read on to find out more! Learn its common causes, its available treatments, and how to prevent it in the future. And, learn a kinesiology taping protocol to help alleviate discomfort.
What are the causes of tennis elbow?
The tennis elbow condition occurs when tendons in your forearm are damaged. These tendons are bands of strong tissue that attach your lower arm muscles to bone.
The condition develops when you engage in activities that involve repetitive movement that puts a strain on the muscles and stress on the tendons.
Because tennis involves repetitive motions with your wrist and hand, tennis players are more likely to develop tennis elbow than people who play other sports. Most people recover from the condition if they treat it appropriately.
Other than tennis, here are some sports and/ or hobbies that can make you prone to tennis elbow:
- Weight Lifting
- Racquet sports
What are the tennis elbow symptoms?
Some of the common symptoms of tennis elbow can include:
- Pain on the bony knob at the outside of your elbow. The pain might also extend into the upper and lower arm
- Pain and weak grip strength—you may have difficulty holding heavy objects
- Pain when you’re raising your hand or when straightening your wrist
What is the best treatment for tennis elbow?
For people with tennis elbow, home treatment can help relieve your pain and speed up your return to tennis. Here's what to do:
- Ice. Apply ice or a cold pack to the painful area for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
- Apply kinesiology tape. Applying kinesiology tape to your tennis elbow will help alleviate some of the discomforts that you feel. Additionally, since the tape is elastic and moves as you move, your range of motion will not be as restricted compared to when you’re using braces and wraps.
- Use an elbow strap. An elbow strap is worn across the base of your palm and attached around your forearm. It relieves pressure from the tennis elbow by supporting muscle groups in your wrist and hand that are weak from overuse.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs. Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin) to help ease the discomfort and swelling. However, you should use these drugs with caution since they may cause side effects like bleeding and ulcers.
- Keep moving. Cardio exercises help youmaintain good circulation and help with the healing process of your body. Exercising your hand and wrist gently may not hurt, but check with your doctor to be sure.
- Physical therapy. Going to a doctor or physical therapist may help you get assessed properly and get recommendations for strengthening and stretching exercises that you can do to help with your tennis elbow.
Kinesiology taping protocol for tennis elbow
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that causes tennis players to have pain in their elbows when they are swinging a tennis racket. Kinesiology taping could help alleviate some of the discomforts that you feel from tennis elbow. It’s also elastic and moves as you move, not restricting your range of motion.
If you’re new to kinesiology taping, you can read more about it on our blog. Learn the answers to some frequently asked questions as well the guidelines for applying tension - which will be handy for the following section!
Here are the steps to help alleviate the discomfort from tennis elbow:
- Measure your kinesiology tape that should span from the lateral epicondyle and a little bit beyond the wrist. Round your tape edges.
- Next, make a donut hole in one of the ends of the tape.
- Then, take note of the bony prominence on your elbow. As you apply the tape, position the donut hole right above the lateral epicondyle.
- Put the wrist on stretch and put about 15-25% tension on the tape.
- Measure and cut a short piece of tape and make it into a Y-strip.
- Anchor the tape just below the bony prominence and apply 50% tension on the tails.
- Rub in the tape to activate the adhesive.
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How long does tennis elbow last?
It depends on a lot of factors and each individual case. The road to recovering from tennis elbow may take weeks, months, or even years. How closely you follow your doctor’s orders and how intense the pain you felt was are some of the factors that should be taken into account. Everybody heals at different rates.
The important thing to remember is to not rush your recovery. Give your tendon ample time to rest and heal. Otherwise, you might make the condition worse.
How do you prevent tennis elbow?
The key to preventing tennis elbow is to avoid overuse and stopping an activity when you start feeling pain below the elbow.
When playing sports, make sure that you have the right equipment that’s not too heavy or too big for you - whether it be a tennis racket or a golf club.
Additionally, make sure that you stretch and do warm-up exercises before engaging in any activity or sport.
If you’ve been experiencing pain in your elbow, it may be tennis elbow. We hope that this article has been useful in answering some of your questions about this condition. However, we always recommend that you speak to your therapist or doctor for more information and to get a professional assessment specific to your case.
Remember that prevention is key--you help prevent future episodes of tennis elbow by warming up before playing sports or activities.
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