Most of us normal people describe the pain between our wrist and elbow as “Tennis Elbow” but, to those in the medical field, they refer to it as, “Epicondylitis. Either way you spell it, it hurts like hell! The condition can range from being an annoyance to something chronic and debilitating. There are treatment options available from over the counter topical creams to surgery. Before you decide which is best for you, it’s important to understand the causes of and treatments for tennis elbow.
- Causes of Tennis Elbow:
The primary cause of the pain associated with tennis elbow is overuse of the muscles in the forearm. Overusing these muscles causes small tears to form in the tendons that attach to the elbow. The tears from the strain on the muscles cause the intense pain that can run from the wrist to the elbow and possibly higher. The tears form largely due to repetitive motions. People who work with tools like hammers (carpenters), screw drivers (electricians) or brushes (painters) are likely to get tennis elbow at some time although, it commonly occurs in individuals who regularly play sports that use rackets (Tennis anyone?).
- Treatment of Tennis Elbow:
There are a few different ways that tennis elbow is treated today and here are just a few:
- Stop the Repetitive Motion!:
This one is obvious, it’s the simplest, it’s affordable and will allow the tendons time to heal. But, unless you have the means to put your daily activities on hold for a month or so, this option might not be for you.
- Exercise/ Physical Therapy:
Seeing a physical therapist can help greatly. Exercise or therapy will actually make the muscles stronger and more flexible. This can make the arms more resistant to the tearing that can occur. Although pricey, most therapy sessions are covered by insurance.
- Medical Braces:
People who cannot avoid the repetitive actions might need to wear a brace that supports the muscles and relieves stress on the tendons. Your doctor can prescribe a physical brace to be made custom for your frame. Depending on your carrier, this too can be covered by a good insurance policy.
Typically the last choice option in rare cases where the pain lasts for months on end. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll need it here. The cost of consultation, surgery, recovery time, physical therapy, and medications could easily top 25k.
- Over The Counter Medications:
The large majority of people who suffer from tennis elbow treat the pain by using over the counter medications. These name brand medications can sometimes reduce the pain and swelling for a time but, a better option is to see your doctor and get a prescription grade topical pain cream for epicondylitis.
- Prescription Grade Topical Pain Cream:
Topical pain cream can work to relieve the pain immediately in the exact area where it hurts. This is important since tennis elbow pain can be in different locations for each person. Additionally, prescription topical pain creams have few side effects if any. They are non addictive and instantly effective and they can be reapplied multiple times as needed during the day. Prescription grade topical pain creams are one of the more effective ways to deal with the pain from tennis elbow. Also, this treatment is covered by most insurance policies.