Tennis elbow is a painful condition caused by repetitive motions of the forearms and wrist. Despite its name, tennis elbow can affect more than just tennis players: anyone who frequently performs repetitive movements with their hands, arms, and wrists can develop this condition. But using a compression sleeve for tennis elbow can alleviate pain and discomfort, helping to get you back in the game.
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is the common name given to a condition called lateral epicondylitis. Other nicknames for this condition include baseball elbow, suitcase elbow, or forearm tennis elbow.
Those who play racquet sports – tennis, racquetball, pickleball, etc. – are at greater risk for developing this condition due to the repetitive nature of their sport.
However, you don’t have to play tennis or other racquet sports to develop epicondylitis. Anyone who performs repetitive tasks with their hands, wrists, and forearms is at risk, including hairdressers, sewers and tailors, chefs, electricians, plumbers, and others.
Over time, this repetitive motion causes tiny tears and inflammation in the two tendons in the forearm, leading to discomfort and limited function in the forearm and wrist.
Tennis elbow shares many symptoms with golfer’s elbow, though these two conditions are distinct. Tennis elbow – lateral epicondylitis – affects the elbow and forearms, whereas golfer’s elbow – medial epicondylitis – affects the inner side of the arm.
What does tennis elbow feel like?
Tennis elbow can feel like a dull ache or a sharp pain and can be accompanied by elbow stiffness, weak grip strength, and numbness or tingling in the fingers.
The symptoms of tennis elbow can make it difficult to perform certain daily tasks, much less play tennis or other sports at your full potential.
Who gets tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow can affect anyone who uses their hands, wrists, and forearms repeatedly, most commonly affecting people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
This condition affects men and women equally. It can occur in one or both arms, although it typically affects a person’s dominant hand.
You do not have to play tennis, golf, or any sport to develop tennis elbow. In fact, only about 5% of all patients suffering from tennis elbow actually play tennis.
That said, about 40% of all tennis players will develop symptoms of tennis elbow during their lifetimes.
How do I know if I have tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is a condition that typically develops over time – it might start as a dull ache or pain in your elbow or forearm that worsens with activity. Due to achiness or pain, you might overcompensate with your other joints or switch to your other arm when performing daily tasks. Even small tasks such as turning a doorknob or buttoning your shirt may irritate your condition.
Many people with tennis elbow say that they experience more of these symptoms at night, especially if they are side sleepers. This is likely because sleeping on your affected arm restricts blood flow to the injured tendons, which can prevent healing and cause you to feel more pain.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with your doctor to rule out other conditions. Tennis elbow is not the only condition that can cause pain, achiness, or burning in the arm. The American College of Sports Medicine specifies at least 43 different elbow joint conditions that share some symptoms with tennis elbow.
Getting a proper diagnosis can help rule out other conditions and ensure that you pursue the right type of treatment.
What are the treatments for tennis elbow?
Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your tennis elbow. The exact combination of treatments recommended for you will depend on your pain level. Below are a few things known to help.
Ice and rest
The most immediate way to relieve some pain associated with tennis elbow is to ice the affected area and allow it to rest. Using an already aggravated elbow can worsen your condition, while purposeful rest can give your tendons time to heal.
Ice can also offer some immediate relief when applied for 15 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a day. However, applying ice to the entire elbow can be challenging with traditional ice packs, so it might be worth investing in an ice pack designed specifically for elbows if you are experiencing tennis elbow pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen, can help to alleviate pain by reducing inflammation. However, over-reliance on NSAIDs can cause stomach and liver problems, so it’s important to combine medication with other non-medicated treatments in the long-term.
Physical therapy can improve the symptoms of tennis elbow. A physical therapist can develop a personalized program designed to strengthen the forearm, wrist, and shoulder muscles to help relieve pain related to tennis elbow. Physical therapy might include a combination of massage, electrical stimulation, ice, and exercises.
Consistency is vital in physical therapy – your physical therapist will likely recommend that you perform some exercises at home in addition to the work you do during your sessions to maximize your healing.
Cortisone steroid injections can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve tennis elbow symptoms. Although these can be useful in controlling pain, they are not meant for long-term use. Too much cortisone can actually be counterproductive, weakening the tissues over time.
Compression sleeves are specialized garments that apply pressure to specific parts of the body, such as the knees, arms, wrists, or elbows.
There are compression sleeves specifically designed for the treatment of tennis elbow, which offer a variety of benefits to the wearer:
Ease of use
Compression sleeves are easy to apply and stay in place better than elbow braces, which can slide around and be hard to use correctly.
Wearing a well-fitting compression sleeve can help restrict movement just enough so you do not worsen your tennis elbow by overextending the joint.
Muscle and joint recovery
Wearing a compression sleeve for tennis elbow can help promote healing in your muscle and joint by applying gentle therapeutic pressure.
Unlike many treatments for tennis elbow, compression sleeves can offer long-lasting relief. When fitted properly, compression sleeves can be worn for extended periods, so you can enjoy the pain-relieving benefits for hours.
Nufabrx HealthWear® compression sleeves combine the benefits of compression with the pain-relieving power of medicine. Nufabrx compression sleeves are infused with capsaicin, a powerful ingredient that offers long-lasting pain relief.
Learn more about Nufrabx compression sleeves for tennis elbow here, and find relief for your tennis elbow pain.