Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Avoid activities that cause pain
Working or playing through pain is not good
If you work or play to the point when pain begins,
then stop and massage the elbow with ice.
Braces and Support:
'Tennis Elbow Band' or elbow strap: This 2-inch band is worn just below the elbow and compresses
the muscles of the forearm just before they attach to the bone (the site of inflammation). Tighten the strap enough to absorb the force of the muscle, but not enough to cut off circulation. Swelling of the hand is a sign that the strap is too tight.
Wrist splint: The work of moving the wrist is what strains the muscle at the elbow. Supporting
wrist can relieve the tension and reduce pain. Stiffness that results from prolongeduse of a wrist brace will make the problem worse, however, so careful attention to flexibility exercises is important.
Sling: If pain is particularly bad, rest the whole arm. Complete rest, however, result in stiffness and weakness, both of which are enemies of healing and recovery.
Stretching: Stretch your arm out straight in front of you. Form a loose fist (fingertips lightly touching the palm). Rotate your hand clockwise in a full circle, three or four times. Rotate your hand counter-clockwise three or four times. Repeat the rotations several times.
Strengthening (Gripping exercises): Use a dead tennis ball or a piece of foam rubber. Squeeze
it gently and slowly. Do not work through pain, but working to it is okay.
Strengthening (Isometric exercises): Isometric means "in the same place". Rest your forearm in your lap or on a tabletop, palm down. Put your opposite palm on top of your hand and push up against the opposite palm. Reverse the hands and press together, which exercises the muscles on the other side of the forearm. Both arms get the same exercises, turning the palms up does the dame thing but simply changes the position of the bones at the elbow. Doing isometric exercises both palm-up and palm-down and left over right will give balanced strength.
Heat and Ice: Warm up the elbow before exercises, 10-15 minutes, not too hot. Use ice massage after exercises. A bag of frozen peas or beans works well. Experiment with heat and ice for daily therapy. One might work better than the other.
Anti-inflammatory medications are generally helpful. The following doses are usually safe, but check with your doctor before beginning a medication you have not taken before. Discuss with your doctor any history of stomach trouble or ulcers, bleeding disorders, other medications that you take, and allergies to aspirin or similar medications.
- Ibuprofen (Advil, etc.): Three 200mg. tablets, three times a day with meals.
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, etc): Two 200 mg. tablets, two times a day after meals.
- Other anti-inflammatories are available by prescription; particularly ones that do not upset the stomach as do Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naproxen.