6 Treatments and Remedies for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a repetitive stress injury that affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow. The tendons are the bands that hold the muscles and bones in place at your joints. Tennis elbow is an inflammation of these tendons caused by repetitive forearm movements, especially those that use the thumb and firsts two fingers.

While it gets its name from the tennis game, other kinds of repetitive activities not linked to racquet sports can cause it. It may also affect carpenters, painters, typists and weightlifters. It can happen to anyone at any age but is most common in people around 40.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons [1] describes burning pain on the outside of the elbow and weak grip strength as the telltale signs of tennis elbow. Tennis elbow develops over time and usually worsens with continued use. The pain is intensified by gripping an object or balling the hands into fists.

Tennis elbow can usually be treated at home, although persistent pain might require medical attention. Here are some ways to treat it:

Ice and Rest

Using an ice pack on your injured elbow can help reduce inflammation. Wrap the ice in a washcloth or hand towel and gently press it against the area. Hold it in place for about 15 or 20 minutes. Repeat this 3 to 4 times every day. Never apply ice directly to the skin as it can cause damage.

Some people use frozen peas [2] instead. Frozen peas hold cold well, and the bag can be molded to fit whatever shape you need.

Tennis elbow causes the tendons to become inflamed. It can also cause small tears in the tendons. These problems are aggravated by continuous movement of the arm. The pain and further development of tennis elbow can be helped by resting the arms, giving the elbow time to heal.

Rest doesn’t mean keeping the arm completely immobile. You can still use it for minor activities that don’t irritate the tendons. Move the arm gently when you do. Always stop if you feel the pain starting.