5 Ways to Relieve The Pain of Tennis Elbow
It's important not to rush your recovery after a bout of tennis elbow, but once the pain, swelling and weakness have subsided, careful use of the arm is fine and may help strengthen the joint. In particular, once the elbow flexes the same way it did before the incident, and without pain, you're likely to be able to use the arm normally.
There are a few ways to bring down swelling, the simplest of which is to apply ice packs to the affected area on a regular basis. Icing the affected elbow for around 20 minutes every few hours for the first few days of a flare-up should help bring down the inflammation and help with the pain.
Another option to reduce swelling is to take doses of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen. However, it is worth checking with a medical professional how long a course is safe for you, as some people find that these drugs cause bleeding or ulcers if overused.
Strapping the Elbow
Providing external support helps to prevent further strain on the tendons, and a firm but not too tight strap is just the thing. Make sure to remove it regularly to allow the skin to breathe though, and ensure there are no ridges or wrinkles that could cause rubs or skin damage and might go unnoticed while distracted by the pain of tennis elbow.
A health care or exercise professional can recommend a set of mobility exercises for you to use to carefully extend the range of comfortable movement over time. These may be performed between three and five times a day, and aim to reduce stiffness and increase flexibility, allowing the arm to move freely once again.
In more extreme cases, professional physical therapy may be required. A physical therapist can provide resistance exercises to increase the stretch in your arm and reduce the pain in your elbow. However, a full course of therapy is likely to be cash and time intensive, so it is worth attempting mobility exercises before embarking on this.
If none of the self-help techniques are working because you cannot move due to severe pain, talk to your physician about an injection of steroids or painkillers to temporarily remove pain and allow you to work on increasing the flexibility of the arm and regaining proper movement. Fear of pain can be inhibiting, so temporarily blocking it with an injection can help to remove a barrier to helping the arm get better by moving it regularly. However, there is no evidence that the injections will improve the situation in the long run, so be sure to use the pain-free time to exercise and stretch appropriately.
Tennis elbow is usually a temporary condition, but can be extremely painful. Here are a few ways to help alleviate the pain while you wait for the episode to pass.