Tennis Elbow: What Is It and How Do We Treat It?

Tennis Elbow: What Is It and How Do We Treat It?

Tennis elbow (latheral epicondylitis) is a painful condition which causes elbow pain, specifically around the outside of the elbow. This type of tendonitisa swelling of the tendonsusually happens after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm near the elbow, such as due to repeated tennis swings from which the injury gets its name. (Not to be confused with golfer’s elbow where the pain is felt on the inner side of the elbow.)

You usually notice pain on the outside of the forearm and the pain increases when you lift or bend your arm, grip a small object, or twist your forearmsuch as when opening a jar or turning a door handle. You may also experience pain and stiffness in your forearm and in the back of your hand when fully extending your arm.

The main culprit is one of the muscles in the forearm that helps to stabilize the wrist when the forearm is straight. When this muscle is weakened from overuse, small tears appear in the tendon which cause inflammation and pain.

Although tennis elbow is sometimes caused by playing tennis, it is more often caused by other activities which put repeated stress on the elbow joint such as painting and decorating, using scissors, or gardening. Painters, plumbers, carpenters, car mechanics, cooks, and butchers are fairly susceptible to developing tennis elbow.

How to treat tennis elbow pain

The below treatments can help alleviate elbow pain specifically associated with tennis elbow. As many other conditions can cause pain around the elbow, however, it is important that you always see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

1. Rest

Tennis elbow will eventually improve over time if you rest the injured arm and stop performing the activity which is causing the pain. Ninety percent of tennis elbow cases heal within one year.

2. Apply a cold compress

Holding a cold compress (such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel) against your elbow for a few minutes several times a day can help ease the pain by lowering the swelling.

3. Physiotherapy and exercise

Regularly massaging and manipulating the forearm may help relieve the pain and stiffness, as well as improve the range of movement in your arm. Physiotherapy may also help and exercises can be performed to gradually strengthen the forearm and wrist muscles.

4. Brace yourself

Using a tennis elbow brace centred over the back of the forearm may also provide pain relief.

5. Medicate

Taking painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help reduce mild pain and inflammation caused by tennis elbow.

6. Take a natural astaxanthin supplement

Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with demonstrated benefits for tennis elbow sufferers. Over 93 percent of tennis elbow sufferers in a  study by the Health Research and Studies Center observed an improvement in grip strength as well as decreased pain following 8 weeks of astaxanthin supplementation.