Of the several pain patients we see in the clinic every day, regardless of location; whether their elbow pain is recent or they have old chronic tennis elbow pain, one question that remains common is about wearing an elbow brace: tennis Elbow supports, straps or just elbow sleeves.
Should you use a tennis elbow strap, tennis elbow buckle/bracket or tennis elbow sleeve?
Here's our answer - when you choose to strap, wrap, brace or use the straps on your elbows, you can:
Pain relief - yes
Elbow Recovery - Slow
Suffering from tennis elbow pain can be debilitating. One of the most popular pain relief products people can buy for elbow pain is a tennis elbow brace.
There are several other ways to relieve pain caused by tennis elbow. You can read about tennis elbow treatment options here.
Why use a tennis elbow brace, strap or strap?
However, purchasing a tennis elbow brace, strap, band, or sleeve seems to be the most popular option to help with tennis elbow treatment, recovery, and pain relief. In theory, there are two reasons for a brace to be prescribed:
immobilize your elbow, and or "Protect" you when your arm moves.
There are many different types on the market to choose from, and we'll look at how they work and which type might be best for you.
Choosing the right support for you will depend on how much you want to pay and what activities you may want to do. There are three types of tennis elbow braces; elbow sleeves, tennis elbow straps, and epicondyle buckles.
A) Tennis Elbow Brace
Elbow sleeves are stocking-like braces that are worn over the entire elbow joint and cover part of the upper arm and forearm.
Tennis elbow braces or sleeves provide compression, support and warmth to the entire elbow while tightening the straps around the upper forearm, working the same way as tennis elbow straps.
Elbow pads are not a cure, they are only protective. It allows you to do your daily necessities like driving, eating or holding your baby with less pain. It can prevent additional damage and irritation to a certain extent.
- Tendons that are not acutely or recently injured respond well to heat (warmth is produced by the sleeve covering the elbow)
- The sleeve also supports the entire joint, so if your arm has multiple conditions that involve the elbow and surrounding muscles, such as biceps tendonitis, golfer's elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome,
- These are usually light, cheap and affordable.
What doesn't work:
- It's cumbersome to put on (although it's easy to follow directions
- Elbow bursitis, etc.
given on the package) and tightening the forearm straps are not as accurate as the straps alone.
Prolonged use does not allow any muscle mobility and leads to loss of arm strength.
If you need to squeeze and grip with your elbows, they can get too hot or under-supported in the summer.
B) Sleeves for Tennis Elbow
These are simple straps that wrap around the forearm just below the elbow. Some have extra pressure pads.
A common mistake when wearing a tennis elbow strap is that people often place the strap on the painful area. It needs to be wrapped around the forearm just below the most painful part of the elbow.
The tennis elbow strap puts pressure on your upper forearm to protect the inflamed tendon.
- They are generally inexpensive, easy to install, and the compression level can be adjusted to suit.
- They change the angle at which the tendon works at the elbow, thereby changing the force exerted on the tendon attachment, giving the injured area time to recover.
What doesn't work:
- They can become uncomfortable with prolonged use. Compression is imprecise as it may slip or spin once sweated.
- They don't hold heat like tennis elbow sleeves do and aid recovery.
C) Epicondylitis or tennis elbow
They consist of a plastic buckle or clip that fits the arm, secured with a strap whose pressure point on the muscle is a few centimeters below the pain point in the elbow.
This elbow pad is primarily considered a medical item.
- If installed correctly, they can be applied precisely to the desired point. This means that the accuracy of pain relief is high.
- This brace is ideal for high performance athletes to continue training while recovering from a tennis elbow condition
What doesn't work:
- They are expensive and sometimes hard to come by
- It can be difficult to fit them in the correct position, and it can take a long time to learn to wear/fit them properly.
Why is physical therapy important along with the use of braces and medication (if any)?
Tennis elbow is an overuse and muscle strain. Repetitive strain injuries like tennis elbow may require immobilization to:
keep the arm still so it can heal
Supports and "protects" your arms during activity.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.
Common sense says that support can help you avoid further harm. You can use the stand or sleeve for a while:
resting the elbow when it is very painful
- Protect your elbows when using your arms
But your muscles still need to work and should continue to move -- so they can maintain, recover, and regain strength.
Tennis elbow braces only provide the benefit of temporary structural support.
Using a tennis elbow pad may temporarily relieve the pain, but once you start normal activities, the pain is likely to come back.
Prolonged use of the brace can weaken the unaffected muscles around the elbow, which can mean a higher chance of repeat injury. Instead, the supporting muscles and shoulders should be retrained to take the load on the elbow and support its function.
Exercise, stretching, and physical therapy can help you reduce this type of pain and prevent it from recurring in the long term. Physical therapy aims to achieve:
Relieve elbow pain.
- Promote tissue repair.
- Restore normal joint range of motion and function.
- Restore normal muscle length, strength, and movement patterns.
- Upper extremity neurodynamics normalized.