Tennis Elbow can kill your tennis enjoyment and performance. Thankfully, Tennis Elbow is a very common and treatable condition. We’ve got you covered with six top strategies for stopping the ache and getting you back to your best on the court.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow is most commonly found in tennis players—however, it can result from any repetitive motion of the wrist including gripping, twisting, and pounding. Hammering, hedge-clipping, painting, using a screwdriver, even excessive texting, plus all other types of repetitive movement activities can result in tennis elbow.
For tennis players, the most common causes are backhanded swings with bad form, late forehanded swings that uncomfortably bend the wrist, and snapping the wrist wrongly during a serve. You’ll notice you have Tennis Elbow when your elbow starts swelling, your forearm tingles and you get an electric surge of pain when you pick up an object. Right when you start noticing tennis elbow is the time to take action.
Right when you start feeling the uncomfortable tingle of Tennis Elbow, put ice on it. This will reduce the swelling and increase the blood flow to these muscles. If you have an ice pack, that’s great—if not, just go the old fashioned route and use a bag of frozen vegetables. You can also freeze a paper cup with water. Make sure there’s something between the ice and your bare skin, as you don’t want to run that up and down your arm without a towel. Ice for twenty minutes a day and make sure not to over ice, as that will only make it worse.
There are a lot of over the counter remedies that will instantly ease your suffering. Advil and Tylenol are going to be your best friend the next couple of days as they’ll numb the pain and make it possible to keep playing if you really want. Also, try some topical ointments like Icy Hot or BenGay—these are available as both creams and patches. They feel strange at first, but they relax the nerves so you won’t feel constant pain throughout the day. Remember: always use the directed amount of these drugs on the back of the box. It might seem like more is better, but in fact overusing these over-the-counter remedies will decrease their effectiveness and add on harmful side-effects.
Buy a tennis elbow brace online like the SIMIEN Tennis Elbow Brace. This high-rated brace will keep your arm steady and take the strain off your muscles when you’re playing tennis. It’s comfortable and breathable, so you can even wear it when you’re not playing if you’re experiencing a lot of discomfort. These braces are relatively inexpensive, so trying one is always a good option right when you’re experiencing the pain. Once your form improves, you’ll no longer have to worry about the discomfort of tennis elbow.
One possible reason you’re experiencing Tennis Elbow is because your tennis racquet isn’t the right one for your play style. You need a racket that’s easy to lift, comfortable to hold and the right size for your body. If your racket is too big/heavy, it will put unnecessary strain on your wrist and you’ll be unable to perform at your fullest. We wrote an article about how to best choose a racket to mitigate Tennis Elbow that we’re sure you’ll find helpful. If you can get a racket that is actively keeping your arm healthy, you won’t need to worry about the pain accompanying Tennis Elbow.
The main reason for Tennis Elbow is improper playing form. If you can get private lessons, you’ll be able to address exactly what you’re doing that’s causing your tennis elbow. Maybe it’s your serve, your backhand, or your forehand—whatever the cause, a second opinion is going to allow you to diagnose what the problem is. If you can’t afford a private teacher at this time, videotape yourself playing and you’ll be able to get a good look at what might be wrong with your playing form. Once you fix your form, you’ll notice an increase in comfort as you play.
This should be a last resort as it’s the most expensive treatment on the list, and the most time-consuming. However, if your tennis elbow persists, by all means you should go to the doctor and get it treated by a medical professional. There’s two things the doctor might do: steroid injections and surgery. The first is by-far more common. These steroids aren’t the ones you hear about weightlifters using—no, they actually help the muscles and tendons heal fast with a measured burst of steroidal relief. Usually, you’ll go to the doctor once or twice a week to get a steroid injection. If this proves to be insufficient, surgery might be a good option. It may sound scary, but a Tennis Elbow surgery is quick, easy and often an out-patient procedure. Your insurance will cover some of the cost and you’ll be able to get back to your full playing potential.
You found out you have Tennis Elbow. You feel a tingling in your arm and elbow, so you want to take steps to stop it. Awesome! First, try icing your arm once a day for 20 minutes. Use over-the-counter painkillers to alleviate the pain. Start playing with an elbow brace to keep your arm in top shape. Consider getting a new racket that is a better fit for your body and perhaps a racket that is designed to limit tennis elbow. Improving your form is going to certainly help your tennis elbow, as this is the main cause of tennis elbow. Finally, go to your doctor if the problem persists, as they’ll be able to diagnose the next steps. Tennis elbow is a common condition that’s imminently treatable, so start working on your arm and it will be better in no time!