An elbow brace or support can help to treat many repetitive stress injuries of the elbow. Probably the most common of these are tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. However, they can also be used to treat many other elbow injuries. These include, for example, elbow strains and olecranon bursitis.
Athletes in many sports use elbow braces during competition or training to manage their elbow pain. The sports in which you are most likely to see elbow braces being worn are those involving throwing or smashing actions. These types of actions tend to place special stresses on the elbow joint and are therefore most likely to cause injuries if you perform them repetitively over a long period. Examples are baseball and cricket (for throwing) and tennis (for smashing).
However, you should appreciate that it is not just athletes that may benefit from the use of an elbow brace. Many non sporting activities engage the flexor and extensor forearm muscles extensively and cause tennis or golfers elbow as a result. Examples of these are painting , sewing or even using a computer mouse. In general activities that require extensive gripping forces or precise use of the hand or wrist can result in elbow injuries and the need to use an elbow brace.
Elbow Brace Designs
Elbow braces can come in several alternative design. Each of these is appropriate for treating different types of elbow injury. In the section below, we shall explain the different designs that you can buy on the market today and how each is particularly suited to treat different types of elbow injury.
Elbow straps are worn just below the elbow. Like knee straps, these are used to apply compression to specific areas of the elbow or surrounding area.
Elbow straps are commonly used to treat tennis or golfers elbow (also known as golf elbow)., This is so since these conditions require compression to be applied precisely to the tendons connecting the forearm muscles to the bony points of the elbow. For tennis elbow, you would wear the elbow strap so that it applies compression to the tendons just below the bony prominence on the outer elbow. For golfers elbow, you wear the strap to apply compression to the tendons of the inner elbow.
This is the most cost effective elbow brace design available on the market. Tennis and golfers elbow are perhaps the most common elbow injuries that people experience. An elbow strap can function as both a tennis elbow brace and as one for golfers elbow, which adds to its versatility. You only need to adjust the position of the brace on your arm to apply compression to a different area.
However, an elbow sleeve does not have much applicability beyond treatment of tennis or golfers elbow. It is of limited use in treating an elbow sprain, for example. In addition, it does not offer adjustable compression. For reasons that we explain below, this feature can prove to be extremely useful in certain situations.
Elbow Sleeves (also known as compression elbow sleeves) cover the entire elbow. They will provide general non targeted compression to the entire elbow joint as well as to surrounding areas. You can wear these braces to treat tennis or golfers’ elbow, but they are also useful for other elbow injuries also. For example, you can use an elbow sleeve to treat sprained elbow ligaments or even just sore forearm muscles due to a long day on the golf course (as an example).
There are even some elbow sleeves that can combine compression with cold therapy for even greater success in pain relief and managing inflammation. The effect would be similar to using an elbow strap for compression together with an elbow ice pack for cold therapy treatment.
Elbow sleeves are the next most cost effective elbow brace design after elbow straps. They are also more versatile since (as we have explained) they can be used to treat a wider range of elbow injuries than just tennis or golfers elbow.
Elbow Sleeves with Strap
An Elbow Sleeve with Strap is essentially an elbow sleeve equipped with a strap that you can use to apply additional targeted compression at especially painful areas. This is the most versatile type of elbow brace as it can apply compression and general ligament support to the elbow and simultaneously apply targeted compression to specific areas to ease pain from tennis or golfers elbow.
Another important feature of the elbow sleeve with strap is the ability to use the strap to adjust the amount of compression from time to time. This allows you to increase compression at times when your tennis or golfers elbow pain is higher than normal, and reduce it at another times.
Alternatively, you can increase compression just before embarking on some activity that may place unusual stress on your forearm muscles (e.g. gardening or painting) to proactively manage the pain. You can then reduce the compression afterwards for greater comfort.
This ability to adjust the balance between compression and comfort increases patient compliance by making it easier to spend more time wearing the brace. The result of this greater compliance is a higher probability of success in treating and eliminating your elbow injury.
Other Important Considerations In Selecting Your Elbow Brace
Whichever type of support you use, you should be careful to select one of the correct size. Follow the sizing instructions carefully.
If your elbow brace is too large it will be incapable of applying sufficient pressure to treat your injury. On the other hand, if it is too small, you will be unable to wear it for extended periods. That will reduce its therapeutic effectiveness.
Care & Maintenance Of Your Elbow Brace
In addition to sizing, we suggest that you ensure you know how to clean and maintain your elbow support. Many of these braces cannot be cleaned like regular clothing as they are made of special materials that cannot withstand washing machines, for example. Wherever this is the case, we have include care and maintenance instructions to help you get many years of use from your elbow support.
If you need any assistance in understanding the various features of the elbow supports below, please contact us. Our knowledgeable customer service associates will be only too pleased to assist you. However, for medical advice on any elbow pain or injury that you may be experiencing, we would suggest that you consult your healthcare professional advisor.