Tennis elbow is a painful condition in which the exterior of the elbow becomes painful and tender. Medically known as lateral epicondylitis, this condition happens when tendons in the elbow are overburdened by repetitive action of the arms and wrists. In such circumstances, the movement of the arms and wrists becomes difficult and there is a persistent pain in the elbows. However, elbow braces can go a long way to help you manage this condition. Read on to know more about the symptoms and treatment options for tennis elbow and how elbow braces can help the sufferer.
Symptoms and treatment options for tennis elbow
The usual symptoms include pain while extending the arms fully, pain on the outer part of the elbow which may become worse over a period if not treated, and pain while gripping things and movements of the wrist.
A popular treatment method is going for physiotherapy, which involves progressive arm exercises. Rest, cold therapy, and medication are other ways to manage the condition. Wearing tennis elbow braces can be especially helpful.
What is a tennis elbow brace and how does it help?
Elbow braces are considered to be the most effective way of treating tennis elbow. It helps protect the damaged tendon during the healing process. The elbow brace is gentle and works on injured elbows by firmly compressing the upper forearm. It absorbs the forces spread through the soft tissues, thereby changing the force exerted on the tendon attachment, allowing the injury to heal better. Choose a well-fitting brace and wrap it on your arms properly to resume daily activities soon.
How to choose the right braces for tennis elbow
Choosing an elbow brace can be confusing as there are a plethora of options available. You can consider the following tips when choosing an elbow brace:
- Quality and durability – This is the main factor to consider while buying elbow braces. Choose wisely after reading reviews or ask assistance while shopping off the shelf. Buy a product which is made of a high-quality material which is breathable and flexible and has a great fit so that it doesn’t hamper motion.
- The objective of the braces – Choose elbow braces depending on the objective it has to serve, whether it is to prevent further injury or ease the healing of an existing injury or both. For example, adjustable braces with straps for long-term pain and wearing compression arm sleeves can help prevent any further injury.
- Consider the fitting – To let elbow braces work efficiently and fight muscle fatigue, choose the right size by measuring the arm correctly. To make it right, measure the widest circumference of your biceps when the arms are relaxed. Also, choose braces that come with a strap measuring around 3–5 cms wide, so that it supports the overall brace. You can choose a material to suit your skin type as well.
- Additional features and specifications – Choose a brace if it provides a few additional features like extra straps or hooks and loop fasteners. There are elbow braces which feature extra gel packs which provide great comfort for long hours.
- Maintenance – Choose a brace in a washable fabric like cushioned foam. Avoid tumble wash as they will hinder the longevity of the braces. You can consider choosing hook fasteners over velcro straps.
Type of elbow braces available in the market
There are a plethora of choices available when it comes to tennis elbow braces. A few popular choices have been listed below:
- Tennis elbow straps – These braces compress the upper forearm and protect the inflamed muscle tendon. The advantages lie in its small size as they are easy to wear. These are affordable and suitable for less pain and for people who need to perform daily chores. These are generally not recommended for severe pain caused due to heavy sports activities.
- Tennis elbow sleeves – These are like stockings which can be worn over the entire elbow joint with a slight covering over some part of the upper arm and forearm. It provides protection and a gentle compression on all muscles surrounding the elbow joints. These braces are recommended for those with a high risk of developing tennis elbow or those who have experienced chronic elbow pain in past.
- Epicondylitis clasp – This elbow brace consisting of a plastic clasp or wide clip fits on the elbow in a specific way so as to apply pressure accurately on the exact spot. These are considered to be medical equipment and have high accuracy for providing pain relief. It is recommended for those who are subjected to high impact activities like racquet sports. These may not be as comfortable as other braces and these could be slightly expensive as well.
Preventing tennis elbow
It has been rightly said that prevention is better than cure. Wearing a suitable tennis elbow brace even when experiencing slight pain is always an advantage. It is, however, important to note that the brace does not cure any serious elbow complications. You can find a tennis elbow brace that fits your needs and budget well; it should also provide enough protection for your tennis elbow injury. If the condition persists, you should consult a doctor at the earliest.