Home Care Tips to Tame Your Tennis Elbow!
Perhaps during the era of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, you have taken it upon yourself to start (ahem, finish) some projects around the house. Whether it is painting a room, staining the deck, or building a fire pit, we all tend to have a running list of to-dos that are getting some much-needed attention during this quarantine.
With extra time on our idle hands, people are dusting off the ole paintbrushes, hammers, drills, and screwdrivers for some DIY home renovation. However, many of these activities involve repetitive heavy gripping, squeezing, and lifting and before you know it, the outside of your elbow is hurting. The pain oftentimes worsens with every roll of the brush and every strike of the hammer. Welcome back tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common overuse injury involving the common extensor tendon that leads to tendonosis and inflammation. Pain increases with resisted wrist extension, gripping activities and you may even notice a decrease in your grip strength.
So there you are, half way through painting the basement dealing with tennis elbow,lateral epicondylitis, and a nationwide lockdown. Here are some at-home tips to try to get you back to that honey-do list quicker.
The good news is 95% of cases resolve with non-operative treatment (Hooray!)
Abby Pollock, APRN
Nurse Practicioner for J. Clinton Walker, MD and Suzanne G. Elton, MD
The first line of defense includes:
- Activity modification – that means resting the elbow and having patience for about 2-3 weeks. Use your shoulder and upper arm muscles to take the strain off your elbow. Avoid bending or straightening your arm all the way during activities. Hold tools with a looser grip if you can.
- Ice, oral NSAIDs (aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen)
- Counter-force strap – apply 10cm down from the elbow joint
- Stretching – Perform these stretches three or four times per day. My favorite is the wrist extensor stretch.
If after you’ve tried the above strategies and your elbow is still bothersome after about 2 weeks, feel free to schedule an appointment with us as you may benefit from a steroid injection and/or physical therapy. Your elbow, home projects, and wife will thank you. If you’ve followed the above suggestions and are doing well, by all means, grab that paintbrush!
Abby Pollock, MSN, FNP-C
Nurse Practitioner to Suzanne Elton, MD and J. Clint Walker, MD
Abby's nursing career begin on a hospital orthopedic/neurology floor where she spent the next eight years as a circulator nurse in both hospital and surgery center operating rooms. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the Northeast Kansas Nurse Practitioner Alliance. "It is such a fulfilling experience to help patients regain their mobility, strength, and confidence through both non-surgical and surgical treatment options."