Tennis elbow is a classic overuse-injury although it may even occur when an ‘unprepared’ muscle is used too much. The condition affects the extensor muscles of the forearm that are present on the lateral side of the arms. We typically use these muscles when gripping something such as a hammer or a racquet. The extensor muscle movements are aided by a set of tendons that become irritated or strained when you use a repetitive gripping motion of the wrists. This leads to a condition called the tennis elbow, named after a common injury seen in tennis players. Even people who do not play tennis but use the gripping/swaying action repetitively are at risk of developing this condition.
Here are some of the best ways to cure tennis elbow fast.
1. Take omega 3 fatty acids
Increasing the intake of fatty fish and other foods rich in omega 3 essential fats can help cure tennis elbow fast. You can also take supplements of fish oil with Omega 3 essential fatty acids to heal the tendons and fight inflammation.
2. Massage away the pain
Perform a self-massage daily to reduce the pain in the elbow area. You can apply some pain balm or massage oils or lotions to facilitate the massage. Gently rub your painful elbow using mild pressure with the thumb of the opposite hand to press the ligaments and tendons. You can also seek help from a friend or partner or hire a professional massage therapist. Self-massages can be done in a shower bath. Frictional massage therapy might increase the pain while performing the massage but it will give much-needed relief afterward. Massage therapy increases blood flow to the elbow and reduces pain and swelling/edema.
3. Use ice and heat therapy
For the first 2 days after the injury, apply ice to the painful area for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a day. After that, apply heat to the same tendon using the same schedule to boost blood circulation. Ice/cool compress lowers the swelling while heat soothes away pain and speeds up the healing process.
It is very important to rest when you are suffering from tennis elbow pain. To maintain fitness, you can go in for lower body workouts. Rest should not be overlooked since one of the main tennis elbow causes is over-exertion. If you are at work, take frequent breaks and stretch your arm. You can do some light pain relief exercises given below. People working on the computer can also develop tennis elbow or tendonitis when they use a keyboard constantly. Rest helps relieve the strain in the tendons giving them a much-needed break.
5. Take OTC pain medicines
One of the best home remedies to eliminate tennis elbow pain is NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen. These reduce swelling and pain and can be taken once or twice a day as per a doctor’s recommendation.
6. Use tennis elbow straps and braces
A tennis elbow strap helps stabilize the tendons in the arms and can prevent the condition from worsening. Tennis elbow brace also works in the same way and prevents stressful movement of the elbows. These products are available online and in drug stores though, in some cases, you may have to get them custom-made.
A lateral counterforce brace can be worn on the elbow while working or when you are playing tennis/sports. This is especially recommended to people who have recovered from a painful tennis elbow and wish to prevent a recurrence. Apply the 4-inch strap snugly around the relaxed upper-forearm but do not make it too tight that it cuts the circulation off.
Note that tennis elbow strap or brace should not be used as the sole treatment for the condition; rather, it should be used as a supportive therapy alongside muscular stretching and arm strengthening exercises.
7. Do pain relief exercises
As the pain reduces, you must recondition your arm and perform simple tennis elbow pain relief exercises to help you get back to normal. Here are some doctor recommended pain relief exercises for tennis elbow sufferers:
Tennis ball squeeze
- Hold a tennis ball in the hurting hand
- Squeeze it a few times.
- Repeat several times as your pain allows.
- Start slow and increase the number of iterations.
- Keeping the palm of your aching hand facing upwards, extend your arm parallel to the floor.
- Make a fist and turn the wrist over as if you were flipping a pancake.
- Repeat several times as the pain allows.
- Start slow and add a few more reps every day.
- As your arm improves, you can hold dumbbells.
- After a few more days, hold a heavier object, such as a hammer. You can also add a racquet once your arm is even stronger.
Wrist extension and flexion
This is one of the most effective tennis elbow treatment exercises:
- Arm out straight, in front of you, parallel to the ground. Palm facing downward to the floor.
- Now, bend your wrist downwards.
- Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
- As your arm gets stronger, add dumbbells, hammer, and racquet eventually.
- Keep your arm extended out straight, parallel to the floor, with your palm facing up.
- Now lift your wrist upward
- Hold for several seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat several times.
- Add weights/dumbbells/racquet as your arm gets stronger.
8. Use proper posture
Proper posture during work and sports is also very important to prevent overuse injuries such as tennis elbow. When you use improper posture, you strain your muscles, tendons, and joints. That is why proper posture is extremely useful in preventing tennis elbow.
9. Educate yourself
Apart from knowing what upper body exercises you can do with tennis elbow, you should also know which tennis elbow exercise to avoid. Hire a sports technique instructor since it is well worth the time and money if you want to seriously pursue this passion. Good instructors point out faulty forms and teach better mechanics and techniques. Faulty tennis strokes can put unnecessary pressure on the arm instead of using the lower body and this can be one of the main causes of tennis elbow. So read up and educate yourself about the right posture to play in.
If your pain does not improve within a few weeks of using these home remedies for tennis elbow, then seek the help of a good doctor. You could be suffering from a more severe case or might be having another underlying condition. An MRI can help your doctor see the exact cause of the pain. You may be advised physical therapy along with steroid injections. Injections only help temporarily and can, over time, cause the tendons to degenerate.
A new form of therapy called PRP or platelet-rich plasma therapy can help tennis elbow sufferers. In this treatment, your doctor will inject growth factors from your own blood plasma into the aching joints to encourage healing. While the therapy definitely shows good results, on the downside, it is expensive and may not be covered by insurance.