Lateral epicondylitis, otherwise known as tennis elbow, is a pain on the outside of your upper forearm that usually makes itself noticeable when bending or lightly twisting your arm, lifting things or even gripping small objects such as a pen. This pain is typically caused by overusing the muscles and tendons in your elbow, such as you would by playing tennis, hence the name. You needn’t be a passionate player to come down with tennis elbow though – any activity that calls for the repeated use of these muscles can lead to microscopic but painful tears in the tendons and inflammations in the lateral epicondyle (the bony, bumpy part of your elbow).
Tennis elbow can be very painful and frustrating seeing as this is a part of your body you use a lot more frequently than you might think. With your elbow bones connecting directly to your wrist and forearm, something as simple as opening a jar can become a whole to-do. Here is our advice on how to best treat tennis elbow.
Get the Right Racquet
First things first, the racquet you use can be a big factor in whether or not you develop tennis elbow in the first place and if it gets worse if you already have it. Everything from the weight of the racquet to its shock absorbing abilities are crucial factors and we would advise reading this guide to the best tennis racquets for tennis elbow to help you choose one that Is designed to combat this issue.
One of the best way to reduce the pain and swelling is to ice it for a period of twenty to thirty minutes, every 3 to 4 hours. Keep this routine up for up to three days and monitor it closely to see if the pain recedes. If you are still experiencing a lot of pain after more than five days, you should consider visiting your local doctor for a shot of painkillers.
If you are easily prone to lateral epicondylitis, you may consider using an elbow strap during acute flare ups to avoid further strain or injury. In doing so, you will force your elbow and forearm into a resting position, giving your muscles and tendons the time necessary to recuperate.
Once you’re passed the worst part of the pain, it is important to keep exercising your muscles in order avoid stiffness and promote flexibility. Light, seated yoga exercises that do not put any pressure on your wrists and forearms are a good place to start. Signing up for weekly physical therapy could also be a great way to speed up your recovery.
There is no way to ensure that specific exercises, dietary or lifestyle measures will prevent a future tennis elbow flair-up, but there’s no harm in trying, right? There are several exercises you can do to help and natural foods such as ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties and can be used both preventively and as natural painkillers. Add a cup of turmeric milk or pure ginger tea to your daily breakfast and you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthy routine that could contribute to a decrease in tennis elbow flare-ups.
Combine the healing effects of massage with the soothing, curing properties of essential oils and voila, there you have it – one of the most effective home remedies known to man: self-care! Massage the affected area following the friction or trigger-point approach using anti-inflammatory oils such as calendula, rose, clove or thyme. Repeat two to three times a day.
Water and bath therapies have been used to heal the sick and injured for centuries and the same can be said of tennis elbow flare-ups. Many tennis elbow connoisseurs swear by the effects of Epsom salts. If you’re lucky enough to have a big bathtub, run yourself a generous bath and add around 1 cup of Epsom bath salt to the water; if you don’t have a tub, no worries: a sink or bidet will suffice – the important thing is keeping your forearm and elbow submerged for at least 15 minutes.