Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is characterized as inflammation and pain involving the tendons that connect the forearm muscles on the exterior part of the elbow. The condition develops once the forearm muscles are overused during certain activities such as weightlifting or racket sports. Certain professions such as plumbers, painters and carpenters face a higher risk for developing tennis elbow. Most cases can be easily managed without requiring surgical intervention.
Measures in managing tennis elbow
- Instruct the individual to take a break from any activity that is responsible for causing the tennis elbow for several weeks.
- You can provide the individual with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory steroids (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin in order minimize the swelling and pain.
- As part of the first aid care, you can apply ice for 15-20 minutes at 3-4 times in a day as soon as possible after the injury was sustained. You can enroll in a first aid course today so that you will learn how to properly carry out these measures when needed.
- The affected elbow should be wrapped with a tensor bandage or apply a compression brace since both can help reduce the swelling.
- Encourage the individual to perform gentle stretching of the affected forearm once the swelling and pain has reduced. When stretching the forearm with tennis elbow, make sure that it will be stretched out in front and gently pull down on the hands using the other one until a slight stretch is felt. This must be held for 5-10 seconds and then relax. This should be repeated six times.
- Strengthening of the arm must be encouraged. After 2-3 weeks or once the pain is gone, the individual should perform strengthening exercises. The individual should sit down while holding a light dumbbell on the affected arm. The forearm must be placed on the knee so that the wrist is just over the knee. Allow the hand to drop to the ground and then slowly raise the hand for 2 seconds and steadily lower the hand. This must be repeated 10 times at 3-5 times a day.
Important considerations to bear in mind
- It is important to avoid stretching the forearm more than its comfortable range. Once the individual experiences pain during strengthening exercises, the individual should perform them without additional weight first.
- In case the symptoms do not improve after 6-12 months with home treatment, it is best to consult a doctor. Surgery might be needed in order to restore the broken muscle tissues or reconnect it to the bone.
- The damaged arm should be kept elevated above the level of the heart as often as possible.
- If the individual could not completely avoid activity that is responsible for aggravating the tennis elbow such as at work, the doctor can recommend the application of a brace or forearm strap in order to reduce the stress on the affected area.
One way to prevent tennis elbow from occurring is to encourage the individual to properly warm-up the arms before starting any activity and utilize proper techniques. Additionally, using a protective brace can also help out a lot.