Tennis elbow is a very common condition that affects millions of people every year, but there are many natural remedies to relieve the pain.
Tennis elbow occurs as a result of repetitive motions of the arm, elbow and relevant tendons and muscles, hence the name, because tennis and other similar sports include constant use of the extensor muscles in that part of the body. Scientifically known as lateral epicondylitis, this condition afflicts millions of people with a sore and tender area on the outside of the elbow. When strenuous motions are repeated over time, it can cause wear and damage to the muscles, as well as tenderness. This condition can also affect manual laborers, such as construction workers or carpenters. Some of the most common symptoms of this condition include localized pain in the wrist and elbow, and weakness in the muscles used for gripping objects and extending your arm. People also suffer sharp, lancing pain in the elbow when performing simple tasks, such as turning a doorknob or carrying heavy objects.
There are a number of ways to prevent tennis elbow from developing, beyond avoiding the activities and motions that led to the condition in the first place. You can strengthen the relevant muscles with alternative exercises, use proper protective and supportive equipment, and avoid using those muscles for other common tasks.
More specifically, tennis elbow can be caused by a number of specific events, in addition to overexertion over time. Microscopic and macroscopic tears can form in the muscles and tendons of the forearm, specifically due to the repetitive forceful activity of striking the ball, swinging a hammer, etc.
Sometimes, a single forceful pull, unnatural twist, or unexpected blow to the area can also cause tennis elbow to develop, and from there, repeated exertion makes those small tears larger and more painful, eventually leaving one unable to perform the task. Also, if you fail to allow the tears to heal, by resting the muscle and taking a break from the activity, the condition can worsen to the point of debilitation. Fortunately, there are a number of remedies for tennis elbow.
Massage: One of the easiest remedies for tennis elbow is a simple massage, either self-administered or from a professional. Due to the location of the pain, it is quite easy to perform a massage on the painful area yourself. Massage increases blood flow and circulation to the damaged tendons and muscles, speeding up the healing process and keeping the muscles from locking up. Stretching before any physical exertion is also a wise choice to prevent further injury.
Ice Packs: When your muscles or tendons are strained, damaged or inflamed, ice packs are an excellent way to control the swelling and pain. You can wrap ice cubes in a towel and hold it against the elbow for 20 minutes at a time. Be careful not to try any physical activity or move the elbow too quickly following ice pack application, as the muscles will be cold and less flexible, making them more prone to injury immediately following the treatment.
Supportive Straps: If you can’t stop the repetitive action that is causing tennis elbow in the first place, be sure to wear protective or supportive gear to keep you safe. For tennis players, wearing a supportive strap beneath the elbow will keep the muscles and tendons somewhat constricted, preventing overexertion or strain. However, cessation of the activity is highly recommended.
Specialized Exercises: There are a number of exercises that can strengthen the muscles and tendons of your forearm. Laying your forearm on a flat surface, with your hand extended off the side, you can hold a weight and slowly flex your wrist up and down in reps of 10 or 15, depending on your comfort level. You should feel the muscle tension in your forearm. Doing this exercise regularly can build that muscle tone again, gradually relieving the pain and inflammation, and preventing your tennis elbow from getting any worse.