I’m not much of golfer or a tennis player but that hasn’t prevented me from dealing with the nagging pain of both tennis and golfer’s elbow also known as athlete’s elbow. In layman’s terms, tennis elbow is an injury to the tendon in the outer elbow. Golfer’s elbow affects the inner tendon of the elbow. But any activity that involves a lot of wrist turning or hand gripping, such as using tools, shaking hands, or twisting, can bring on these conditions! The pain you feel occurs near the elbow. It can also travel into the upper arm or forearm.
These ailments are not to be confused with bursitis and tendinitis, both of which are common enough conditions that cause swelling around muscles and bones and occur most often in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle.
Rehab is Served
The National Institute of Arthritis and MusculoSkeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) explains that an off-season weight training program and an in-season maintenance program can go a long way toward preventing tennis elbow. Problem is, we don’t focus our workouts on worst-case scenarios. We try to resolve the pain after it happens. In the case of athlete’s elbow, WebMD.com recommends the following:
Ice it Baby – When first feeling pain or tenderness around the outside of the elbow, immediately apply ice to the affected area. Keep the elbow elevated above your heart and ice it for 10 to 15 minutes, on and off about five times during the first 48 hours, to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Rest – During the first 48 hours, rest the elbow. However, you don’t have to rest the other parts of your body. You can even strengthen the uninjured arm muscles by squeezing a tennis ball several times or performing dumbbell wrist curls and extensions. Many physical trainers and therapists believe that “active rest” during injury rehabilitation may actually accelerate healing, since pain-erasing, feel-good endorphins are released through exercise.
Apply Moist Heat – After treating the injury with ice during the first 48 hours, switch to moist heat applications. Mix a half cup of Epsom salts in a large bowl of warm water. The moist heat from the Epsom salt treatments not only reduces inflammation, it brings blood to the area to promote healing.
Stretching and Massage – After inflammation is diminished, try to gently stretch the forearm muscles around the elbow. Afterward, gently massage the area around the outside of the elbow for 30 seconds to stimulate blood flow.
Prevention is the Key
To help prevent swelling and pain consider the advice provided by the MayoClinic.org.
- Warm up or stretch before exercise
- Strengthen the muscles around the joint
- Take frequent breaks from repetitive tasks
- Cushion the affected joint with foam (knee pads, elbow pads)
- Increase the gripping surface on tools by using gloves, grip tape, or other padding
- Use two hands to hold heavy tools
- Practice good posture
- Position your body properly when doing daily tasks
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This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.