Chris Roberts, a Level 4 Rehabilitation Therapist and Sports Conditioning expert, has provided the below tips on behalf of cryotherapy brand Biofreeze on avoiding and treating tennis elbow.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow. It’s clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. It often occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint.
How can you avoid it?
It’s not always easy to avoid getting tennis elbow, although not putting too much stress on the muscles and tendons surrounding your elbow will help prevent the condition from getting worse.
If your tennis elbow is caused by an activity that involves placing repeated strain on your elbow joint, such as tennis, changing your technique may alleviate the problem.
Compression items such as compression cuffs or elbow sleeves can also help minimise the risk of tennis elbow.
What are the best treatments for it?
Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, which means it will eventually get better without treatment, However, there are treatments that can be used to improve your symptoms and speed up your recovery.
It’s important that you rest your injured arm and stop doing the activity that’s causing the problem. Holding a cold compress, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, against your elbow for a few minutes several times a day can help ease the pain.
Taking painkillers, such as paracetamol, may help reduce mild pain caused by tennis elbow. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can be used to help reduce inflammation. Cryotherapy such as Biofreeze can also be used to help reduce pain.
Physiotherapy may be recommended in more severe and persistent cases. Massaging and manipulating the affected area may help relieve the pain and stiffness and improve the range of movement in the arm.
Surgery may be used as a last resort to remove the damaged part of the tendon.
Most cases of tennis elbow last between six months and two years. However, in about nine out of 10 cases, a full recovery is made within a year.
Who is most likely to be affected by it?
Tennis elbow is a common musculoskeletal condition. It’s estimated that as many as one in three people have tennis elbow at any given time.
Each year in the UK, about five in every 1,000 people go to see their GP about tennis elbow.
The condition usually affects adults and is more common in people who are 40-60 years of age. Men and women are equally affected.
What are other injuries you are at risk of when playing tennis?
Other injuries commonly occurring in tennis are Rotator Cuff Tears, Stress Fractures in the Back Patellar Tendonitis (aka Jumper’s Knee) and Ankle Sprains. All of which can be minimised through thorough warmups and pre-event preparation.