Tennis elbow is a painful condition that affects people who use their hands often for rigorous exercise including athletes. Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis) is caused by inflammation around the elbow, which causes swelling, stiffness, joint pain and difficulty moving the hands freely. It affects about 3 percent of Americans every year, especially those between the ages of 30 to 50. It mostly affects the arm that a person uses frequently for any form of exercise.
Facts About Tennis Elbow:
- Tennis elbow is associated with pain around the elbow and forearm, especially following an injury or overuse. This causes damage to the tendons/joints around the elbow and forearm, and can also impact your ability to move your wrists or hands normally.
- Tennis elbow is most common in tennis players and those who play similar sports like racquetball or squash. Though it also affects non-athletes, too.
- Anyone who uses their arms excessively can develop tennis elbow symptoms, especially if daily activities put a lot of stress on the arms.
- Most people will only experience tennis elbow in one arm, whichever one is dominant.
- It usually takes months for tennis elbow to develop before you’ll notice symptoms. At this point, pain can become extreme.
- Symptoms can be relieved by icing, exercising, resting, and stretching the affected arm.
5 Natural Tennis Elbow Treatments
- Use the “RICE Method” First
RICE method involves Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Once tennis elbow symptoms have become bad enough to cause you noticeable pain, the first step is to rest the area and stop repetitive movements responsible for the condition. You can use ice early on especially after an injury to control swelling. Ice is most helpful within 24 to 48 hours after swelling starts.
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Try icing the elbow and forearm for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, severally everyday. Compression and elevation also help keep inflammation from deteriorating. You can wear a bandage, splint or brace temporarily to keep the inflamed tendon from becoming too swollen.
Once you do resume working out, try resting properly between workouts. Rest is crucial for allowing worn-down tissue to heal itself.
- Perform Tennis Elbow Exercises and Stretches
This method might appear counter-intuitive, but in most cases of tennis elbow, moving the arm and elbow carefully can actually help break up stiffness and ease symptoms. You shouldn’t completely immobilize the arm or elbow if you’re diagnosed with tennis elbow unless you have severe inflammation.
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Try gently stretching and exercising the area to help break up tissue adhesions that actually worsen tennis elbow. At the same time, you want to be careful not to go beyond the painful area. Always start these stretches and exercises gradually and be patient. Target to put the least amount of pressure on the elbow while still stretching it, and then increase resistance with time.
Stretches and exercises for tennis elbow include:
- Eccentric wrist stretch: Rest your forearm down on a table with your wrist hanging off the edge. Hold a very light weight like 5 pounds or less in your hand with your palms up. Drop and lift your wrist slowly. Perform 10 repetitions, 3 times every other day.
- Forearm extensor stretch: Keep your affected wrist bent in front of you. With your unaffected hand, reach over and grab the fingers of your affected hand, then pull them back to stretch the forearm. Hold for 30 seconds and perform twice daily.
- Tricep stretch: Bend your affected arm behind your back and apply light pressure on the elbow using your good arm. Hold for 30 seconds and perform 3 times every other day.
- Ball squeeze hand-strengthener: Hold a tennis ball or similar ball in your hand. Practice gripping and squeezing. Start by squeezing for 3 second at a time, then work your way up to 10 seconds.
- Egoscue Method
The egoscue method focuses on a series of gentle stretches and exercises to correct misalignments in the musculoskeletal system that contribute to pain and poor posture. Egoscue helps reduce tendon or joint pain by focusing on proper form when exercising or using various muscles. According to Egoscue theory, the real reason for tennis elbow is maintaining improper form.
This method focuses on correcting form of the shoulder, back and forearm muscles so that the elbow joints don’t become compromised and lose their full range of motion. Egoscue exercises for tennis elbow are quite easy to remember and easy to practice at home. No matter what type of activity you’re doing, learning proper form and posture though Egoscue helps you better protect yourself from future injury and pain.
- Acupuncture Treatments
Acupuncture is an all-inclusive health method that comes from traditional Chinese medicine. It helps ease pain by stimulating specific points on the body through the insertion of very thin, painless needles. According to studies, patients receiving acupuncture treatments report less pain, including fewer muscle aches and pain, osteoarthritis symptoms, and chronic headaches.
- Control Pain Naturally
The use of certain essential oils can help improve your condition and ease pain. For example, cypress essential oil works by improving circulation. Helichrysum oil helps repair damaged nerve tissue. Peppermint essential oil can also reduce pain, while frankincense increases healing by decreasing inflammation. To use essential oils, mix several drops of one of the oils above with a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply the mixture to painful areas topically thrice daily