Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition characterized by pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. It is caused by repetitive motions, such as gripping or swinging a tennis racket, leading to inflammation and small tears in the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle. As pointed out here, it is estimated to affect from 1-3% of the adult population each year.
An elbow brace for tennis elbow brace can play a significant role in alleviating pain, providing support, and facilitating the healing process. In this article, we first explore how an elbow brace can effectively aid in the treatment of tennis elbow. We will then move on to look at the factors to bear in mind when choosing an elbow brace for tennis elbow.
How An Elbow Brace For Tennis Elbow Works
An elbow brace for treatment of tennis elbow can work in several ways, as outlined below:
One of the primary benefits of wearing an elbow brace for tennis elbow is pain relief. The brace applies targeted compression to the affected area, reducing the strain on the tendons and helping to alleviate pain. By providing external support and stability, the brace offloads the stress placed on the inflamed tendons during activities that aggravate the condition, such as gripping, lifting, or repetitive motions. This pain reduction allows individuals with tennis elbow to continue their daily activities or engage in rehabilitative exercises with reduced discomfort.
Tendon Protection and Healing
An elbow brace provides a supportive barrier that helps protect the tendons and aids in the healing process. By stabilizing the forearm muscles and limiting excessive movement of the affected tendons, the brace helps prevent further damage and allows the body to repair the injured tissue. This protection enables the tendons to heal properly and reduces the risk of re-injury or chronic inflammation.
Enhanced Tendon Loading and Recovery
Elbow braces designed for tennis elbow often feature targeted pressure pads or gel inserts that exert additional pressure on the injured tendons. This compression promotes improved tendon loading and reduces stress on the injury site, facilitating the healing process. By increasing blood flow to the area and promoting tissue repair, the brace assists in reducing inflammation and supporting the natural recovery of the tendons.
Stability and Joint Alignment
An elbow brace offers stability and helps maintain proper joint alignment in the elbow. This stability reduces strain on the muscles and tendons, decreasing the risk of excessive force transmission to the injured area. By providing support to the elbow joint, the brace assists in maintaining optimal biomechanics during movements, minimizing abnormal stresses on the tendons and promoting a more efficient healing environment.
Facilitation of Physical Rehabilitation
Wearing an elbow brace during physical rehabilitation exercises can be beneficial for individuals with tennis elbow. The brace allows for controlled and progressive loading of the injured tendons, assisting in the rehabilitation process. By providing support and limiting excessive movement, the brace enables individuals to engage in therapeutic exercises that promote tendon strengthening, flexibility, and gradual return to functional activities.
Dealing with chronic pain or a nagging injury can have psychological implications. Wearing an elbow brace can provide psychological support and confidence to individuals with tennis elbow. The brace serves as a visible reminder of the ongoing treatment and helps individuals feel supported and protected during daily activities or sports participation. This psychological boost can positively impact motivation, adherence to treatment, and overall well-being during the recovery process.
Based on the above information, an elbow brace can be a valuable tool in the treatment of tennis elbow, offering pain relief, tendon protection, stability, and support during the healing process.
By reducing strain on the affected tendons, promoting proper joint alignment, and facilitating physical rehabilitation, an elbow brace allows individuals to continue their activities with reduced discomfort and aids in a quicker and more successful recovery from tennis elbow.
If you are experiencing symptoms of tennis elbow, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, which may include the use of an elbow brace as part of the comprehensive management approach.
Choosing The Right Elbow Brace For Tennis Elbow
As discussed above, an elbow brace can provide much-needed support and relief for individuals suffering from tennis elbow. However, with a variety of options available, selecting the right elbow brace can be overwhelming.
In the next section of this article, we offer a comprehensive guide to help you choose the most suitable elbow brace for tennis elbow, considering six factors – support level, brace design, fit, adjustability, comfort, flexibility and professional advice.
Determine the Support Level Needed
Elbow braces for tennis elbow come in various support levels, ranging from mild to moderate to maximum support. The appropriate support level depends on the severity of your condition and the level of stability required. Mild support braces offer basic compression and are suitable for early-stage or mild cases of tennis elbow. Moderate support braces provide additional reinforcement and are ideal for intermediate stages or moderate pain. Maximum support braces offer the highest level of stability and are recommended for severe cases or chronic pain.
Consider the Brace Design
There are different designs of elbow braces available, each with its own advantages. The two common types for tennis elbow are:
- Strap/ Band Brace: These braces feature a strap or band that wraps around the forearm, just below the elbow. They apply targeted pressure to the affected tendon, helping to alleviate pain and reduce strain. Strap/ band braces are known for their simplicity, ease of use, and adjustability, making them suitable for most individuals with tennis elbow.
- Sleeve Brace: Sleeve braces are made of flexible materials that slide onto the forearm, covering the affected area. They provide compression and support to the entire elbow joint and surrounding muscles. Sleeve braces offer a comfortable and secure fit and are preferred by individuals who require general elbow support or those with sensitive skin that may be irritated by straps or bands.
Consider your personal preference and comfort when choosing between a strap/ band brace or a sleeve brace.
Opt for Adjustable Fit
An elbow brace with adjustable features allows for a customized fit, ensuring optimal comfort and support. Look for braces with adjustable straps, closures, or tension settings. These features enable you to adjust the compression level and fit according to your preference and the fluctuating needs of your condition. Adjustable braces also accommodate variations in arm size and shape, providing a secure and snug fit.
Assess Breathability and Moisture-Wicking Properties
Comfort is essential when choosing an elbow brace, particularly if you plan to wear it for extended periods. Look for braces made of breathable materials that allow air circulation and prevent excessive moisture buildup. Moisture-wicking properties help to keep the skin dry, reducing the risk of irritation or discomfort. Breathable and moisture-wicking materials contribute to a comfortable wearing experience, especially during physical activities or in warm conditions.
Consider Flexibility and Range of Motion
While support and stability are crucial, it’s important to find an elbow brace that allows for a reasonable range of motion. The brace should provide support without restricting natural movement. Look for braces made from flexible materials that allow for comfortable bending and extension of the elbow joint. This flexibility enables you to perform daily activities and engage in sports or exercise while wearing the brace.
Seek Professional Advice
If you are unsure about the most suitable elbow brace for your specific condition, seek guidance from a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or sports medicine specialist. They can assess your condition, recommend the appropriate support level, and provide personalized advice on selecting the right elbow brace. Professional guidance ensures that you choose an elbow brace tailored to your needs and helps maximize the benefits of using the brace for tennis elbow.
Selecting the right elbow brace for tennis elbow is crucial to alleviating the pain of the condition. Consider the support level you need, the design of the brace, its adjustability and the other factors mentioned above. With these in mind, you should be well on the way to choosing the elbow brace best suited to ease your tennis elbow.
In addition to choosing an elbow brace for tennis elbow, do not forget to consult with your doctors to determine which other treatment strategies may be appropriate for your condition.