Tennis elbow is the more commonly used name for lateral epicondylitis, which is a repetitive stress injury that occurs usually a result of repetitive movements of the wrist and arm. One example of this is when a baseball pitcher throws inning after inning of fastballs. Another could be a factory worker stationed on the assembly line hour after hour. A common approach to treatment of this injury is the use of a elbow brace for tennis elbow that can alleviate the pain and speed recovery.
Tennis elbow pain occurs primarily at the point where the forearm tendons connect to the bony area on the exterior of the elbow. In some cases, the patient can also experience pain in the forearm and wrist. This can range from a mild, but constant annoyance to a debilitating condition that will sideline you indefinitely.
We outline below the most common forms for tennis elbow brace and describe how they are intended to alleviate pain and speed recovery. At the end of this post, you will be able to better identify the type of tennis elbow brace that should be used by individuals with different lifestyles and/or activity levels.
A epicondylitis clasp is a plastic clasp or clip worn around the arm. The patient secures the clasp using a strap that applies pressure to an area over the muscle and adjacent to the painful area on the elbow.
This pressure absorbs some of the forces that would otherwise transmit through the tissues to the injured area. Furthermore, it changes the angle of the tendon, which in in turn alters the impact of different forces on your elbow and relieves the symptoms.
If fitted by someone with the required skill level, the epicondylitis clasp can precisely target the site of the pain. The fitter can also customize it to the specific requirements of the patient. Unfortunately, the person applying the clasp may not have the level of skill required to achieve these results.
These braces are recommended for high level athletes requiring protection from high impact forces.
Tennis Elbow Strap
These braces are essentially straps that athletes wear for treatment of tennis elbow, and they come in different varieties. The patient will usually wrap the strap around the forearm and adjacent to the elbow. In some cases, there are pads that sit on the muscle, just below the point of pain. These apply additional pressure to the area (as with the epicondylitis clasp above).
Tennis elbow straps work in a manner very similar to the epicondylitis clasp. They compress the upper forearm and absorb the forces that would otherwise penetrate the soft tissues next to the painful area on the outside of the elbow. They also modify the angle at which the tendon meets the elbow. This reduces the forces applied to the point at which the tendon attaches to the joint. The injured area thus has an opportunity to recover without the normal level of stress.
One advantages of a tennis elbow strap is the inexpensive price tag. Another is the ability to adjust the fit and degree of compression applied. However, they lack the precision that the fitter can achieve with the epicondylitis clasp. They also can’t be used for heat therapy in the way that a tennis elbow sleeve can.
This type of elbow brace for tennis elbow is ideal for casual athletes or those in careers with repetitive motions/strains. It is a good choice for individuals who are without high impact or stress on the elbow, but nevertheless experience symptoms of tennis elbow.
Tennis Elbow Sleeve
Tennis elbow sleeves are essentially a simple elbow sleeve that is sometimes accompanied by a strap. The sleeve offers compression, support and warmth for the elbow. When a strap is present, the user can tighten it around the upper forearm to function as described above for the tennis elbow strap. It will also absorb stress and irregular movement that may affect the soft tissues. This in turn relieves pain and further trauma.
Unlike the other 2 elbow braces described earlier, a tennis elbow sleeve provides light and regular heat therapy to the site of the pain. This aids the healing process by reducing swelling and regulating blood flow.
For those individuals with more than one injury to the elbow, the sleeve provides support to the entire area. However, it is a more cumbersome brace. Additionally, using the forearm strap is less precise than using a separate strap. This variation of elbow brace for tennis elbow is effective for most people with tennis elbow symptoms. It is also suitable for those with more serious, all-encompassing arm or elbow injuries besides tennis elbow.