For the moment let’s assume that you’ve got lateral epicondylitis/tennis elbow and not cancer on the outside of your elbow. I’m always a little nervous about giving medical advice to people I can’t see or touch. I would hate to tell you to put a tennis elbow brace on your arm if the pain you’re experiencing is actually due to a clogged coronary artery. So suffice it to say that if there is something growing or draining over there on your elbow, or if you experience shortness of breath at the same time you are feeling pain in your left arm…it’s probably not tennis elbow and you probably don’t need a brace! You need a doctor!
Hey! I am a doctor and I can help you with your tennis elbow! Go to the local Walgreens or sport store and buy a…tennis elbow brace! That’s easy. Put it on like they show you on the instruction sheet. I like the ones that are shaped like the one in the picture. The sleeve-like things don’t really accomplish the goal. So get one of those strap-like ones and use it as much as you can tolerate using it. It’s really hard to predict when you’re going to strain those muscles. You could go all day with no pain and then suddenly grab a doorknob which will bring you to your knees. So just wear it for a while every day. And certainly put it on when you’re going to be doing some repetitive activity you know will aggravate it. Like playing tennis. Duh. That’s why they call it a tennis elbow brace.
Tighten it up enough to make the veins on your hand stick out just a tad, but not so tight that your fingers get tingly or swollen.
Get a wrist brace. That might seem strange, since you’re not having pain in your wrist. But remember, the muscles which raise your wrist and fingers are attached to that little bone, so if you rest your wrist, you rest those muscles. If you experience pain in your elbow in the morning when you wake up, it’s because you’ve slept with your elbow bent and your wrist flexed down all night (remember the fetal position). Those muscles and tendons have been under tension all night. So if you wear the wrist brace to bed, it will eliminate that strain on the elbow! Remember how I love to multi-task. It’s a huge bonus to treat something while I sleep!
Massage your elbow. Then do it some more. Then do it with Tiger Balm or Ben-Gay or anything that gets warm. Frankly I think it’s good to massage most anything that hurts…unless it’s draining, has stitches in it or causes shortness of breath.
You could try taking an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory (NSAID) for a while. Of course you need to follow the directions on the label and make sure there’s no reason not to take them; like a stomach ulcer, or liver or kidney disease. And you shouldn’t take them if you’re already taking prescription anti-inflammatories like Celebrex, or Mobic or Relafen, to name a few.
So what have I done for you lately? Next time I’ll tell you what your doctor can do for this condition.