If you are reading this article, you are currently experiencing or have suffered from pain on the outside of the elbow. It doesn’t mean you necessarily got it from playing tennis. Pain on the outside of the elbow is the most common elbow dysfunction and caused typically by overuse. Pain occurs with reaching, gripping or lifting an object usually with the palm down and typically affects people over the age of 40. Yes, it is the aging thing again. Maybe you overdid it in the garden pulling weeds or gripping the throttle on your Harley. Now that is it here, what can you do to help it recover?
First, pain is actually “bad”. This seems like an obvious statement, but in a workout culture of “no pain no gain”, people think pain might be a good thing. It is not. The first thing you can do to start the healing process is to “STOP” hurting it. When reaching, lift palm up not down. If possible, try not to reach at all and carry items close to you. Limit your activities to pain FREE ones.
Next, follow the RICE principal:
REST. Ideally, you should abstain from 6 weeks of aggravating activities. This is the minimum time for soft tissue healing and repair. Every time you aggravate your injury, it will start the clock over again, so really focus on REST.
ICE. Ice can be helpful in these early phases of dysfunction as it involves inflammation which will respond well to the anti-inflammatory effects of ice.
COMPRESS. Tennis elbow often responds well to using a compression elbow brace. These braces effectively take stress and tension off the tendon that attaches to the bone…that super tendon spot. The brace allows you to continue to use the muscle while resting the tendon. Restore PT prefers using the BAND IT brace, but there are several brands available. Check out the Restore PT SHOP for elbow brace options.
ELEVATE. It’s difficult to hold the elbow in an elevated “over the heart” posture for a period of time. Propping the elbow up on a pillow can definitely help take the pressure off.
If you follow the above steps, you will probably recover and resume where you left off before your injury. Remember, it is an overuse injury, so make sure to resume slowly and in small portions.
If you haven’t recovered, you are a good candidate for physical therapy. The therapist can assess and treat the joints and muscles to assure perfect alignment and function using a variety of manual therapy techniques. The certified physical therapists at Restore Physical Therapy (Restore PT) in Boulder, Colorado are specially trained to assess these types of injuries. They may prescribe a therapeutic exercise like loading at the perfect level to help strengthen the tendon without aggravating it.
At Restore Physical Therapy in Boulder, CO, we provide the best service and treatment available to help you heal faster and safely. If you would like an evaluation from one of our certified physical therapists, please contact us.