What is tennis elbow?
The various joints in the body are vital for mobility and movement. If they are not working properly as a result of an inflammation or injury, it will lead to pain and issues with movement. Despite the fact that the elbow is not a weight-bearing joint, it is important for moving the arms and hands. If there is an acute elbow problem, such as a tennis elbow, it may lead to the difficulty in moving the hands or lifting objects.
Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow is a common elbow injury condition. Tennis elbow is a painful condition that occurs when the tendons in the elbow become swollen due to strenuous overuse and repetitive movements.
Though it’s called as tennis elbow, the condition does not only affect athletes who play tennis or other racket sports but also, workers in occupations that involve repetitive movements. They include butchers, carpenters, painters, and plumbers.
Tennis elbow is believed to affect about 1 to 3 percent of the people in the United States. Usually, it happens between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.
Tennis elbow is usually a self-limiting condition that means it will get better even without treatment. However, the duration depends on how the tendons will heal. In some cases, it can persist for more than a year.
Various treatments can reduce the pain and inflammation caused by tennis elbow. The most important thing to do is to rest the arm and avoid the activity that had caused the problem.
The most common treatment options are resting the affected area, taking painkillers, physical therapy, ice and hot therapy and in severe cases, surgery.
Resting the injured part is important in promoting faster healing of the condition. If your tennis elbow stemmed from playing tennis or painting, you might want to rest from the activity until the pain subsides and the injury has completely healed. This will prevent re-injury on the body part.
One of the most common treatment options is the use of elbow straps.
Tennis elbow straps
A tennis elbow strap or brace is a known aid to the treatment of tennis elbow. It also contributes to the rehabilitation of the injured body part. There are various types of the tennis elbow straps in the market, depending on the severity of the condition.
It is important to choose the tennis elbow straps wisely, since you’ll be using this brace longer, depending on the recovery period needed for the elbow.
How do tennis elbow straps work?
The theory behind the use of tennis elbow straps or counter-force braces is similar to the mechanics of the guitar. When a finger is placed on the string at the end of the guitar, it decreases the tension on the distal string to the fret where the fingers are situated.
A counter-force tennis elbow straps are like the fingers on the guitar neck, which is the forearm, and the extensor muscles, which are the guitar strings. Hence, it reduces the tension of the muscles as they are attached to the lateral epicondyle.
Tennis elbow straps work by compressing the upper forearm and thus, absorbing the forces that are transmitted through the soft tissues to the area where there is a pain. Also, these straps modify the angle at which the tendon works at the elbow. This then changes the force applied to the tendon, allowing the injured part to heal and recover faster.
Using a tennis elbow strap is easy – just open the strap, position the pad on the affected area, threat the strap through the buckle or lock and fasten the lock.
Are they effective?
Yes, tennis elbow straps reduce pain, inflammation and reduce the tension on the muscles and affected tendon. Many studies have shown that strapping the injured elbow allows the patient to experience a pain-free force. This means that he or she can move more without experiencing the severe pain brought by the elbow overuse condition.
In many cases, wearing a counterforce forearm brace or a tennis elbow strap can help fasten healing. If it’s combined with taking anti-inflammatory painkillers and resting the injured part by taking a break from the aggravating activities, the tennis elbow will heal faster and the recovery time will be shorter.
Aside from these advantages, using a tennis elbow strap has another perk, it is inexpensive and easy-to-acquire. There are many straps available in the market, both from stores and from online shops. The sizing is also universal, so it’s easy to find your size anywhere.
Using elbow straps are important to help improve the healing process and reduce the risk of re-injury, that would be more painful, and it would lead to a longer time needed for recovery. It may also provide compression on the affected area, that can minimize unwanted movements that could further injure the elbow.