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My husband suffered for many years from arthritis in his shoulder, and carpal tunnel syndrome in his hand. He had a successful operation on his hand about 5 years ago, and an equally successful operation on his shoulder a year ago.
However, many years of strain from both ends of his arm, led him to also suffer from Tennis Elbow, despite not being an active participant of racquet sports......
Tennis Elbow - what is it?
The proper name for this condition is Lateral Epicondylitis.........Tennis Elbow is much easier to say! Tears in the tendon around the elbow area, caused by repetitive straining of the elbow (whether from playing tennis, or adapting to cope with another condition, such as painful arthritis) heal up, then tear again, over and over. This continued damage and repair eventually results in the formation of calcium deposits and rough, granulated tissues, and then collagen leaks from the area, causing swelling, which in turn causes additional pain as it puts pressure on an already overworked and tired set of muscles and tendons.
Some reports say that about half of all tennis players will suffer from this at some time, but yet only 5% of cases of Tennis Elbow are tennis players.....
How can it be treated?
Rest is one of the best ways of treating this condition - allowing the swelling to go down, and the tendons to repair and to stay repaired. However, for many sufferers, this is simply not possible - every day jobs need to be done, and depending on your line of work, your arm is one of your most used limbs - rest.....haha, what's that?!!
Another "quick fix" would be to take anti-inflammatories and painkillers - this is ok to see you though a day, but long term is not advised. Plus, if you are like my husband and don't like taking pills, it is not ideal in any way. Painkillers, whilst masking the pain, will not heal it, and will not cure the underlying problem, which could lead to longer term problems in due course.
Having had his arthritis and carpal tunnel successfully treated, my husband decided that enough was enough with the pain in his elbow, and so went to his GP, who suggested that he purchase a Tennis Elbow support strap to wear. He was advised to wear this for a month and to come back if it was not showing any improvement. Feeling a little "fobbed off" by the GP, my husband duly went into town and purchased this support strap. It cost £18.99 from Boots.
On taking it out of the packet, and seeing that it is simply a strap containing a pressure pad, with Velcro to secure it in place, he felt as though he had wasted his money - however, he was going to persevere with it, if only so that he could tell the GP in a month's time that it had not worked.
The strap is black, and made of a soft breathable fabric, so is comfortable to wear all day. It is a couple of inches deep, and is adjustable by way of Velcro, so however big you are, this will fit. It is not overly bulky either, so wearing it under a long sleeved shirt is not an issue either. I understand that it only comes in black though, and would have expected to see a "skin" coloured one as an alternative.
The strap is secured below the elbow, and works by applying pressure to the arm in a way that relieves pressure where it has been causing pain. This might sound counter-intuitive, but it really does do what it needs to do.
My husband found that after a few days of wearing this, his symptoms were greatly reduced. Whilst it has not got rid of the pain completely, it is certainly a vast improvement. He wears the strap every day, regardless of whether he is working or resting, and takes it off at night. He has been using the strap for over 3 months now, and is very pleased with the result. It has certainly reduced the need for painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
So, £18.99 well spent, and a lesson learned in not assuming you know more than your doctor!
If you are buying this without having seen your GP (It is easily purchased in Boots stores and online) you are advised to see your doctor if the pain continues or if swelling gets worse after 48 hours.
Tennis elbow is a condition I have had the misfortune to suffer with for the past couple of years.
It started out as occasional pain in my right arm. I broke this arm when I was 17 and as a result ever since I have got used to the occasional twinge of pain. However over time the pain has become more insidious, culminating in being so bad I struggle to use my right arm - which is a problem as I am right handed.
Visits to the doctor have resulted in several remedies being suggested to me, including ibuprofen tablets, which worked at first, to eventually a silicone injection, which worked in a very strange way - it made the pain much worse for the first 24 hours before removing it completely.
I truly thought I had rid myself of tennis elbow but just 12 months later, the tell-tale pain was back.
Another injection wasn't going to be an option this time round - not until I had had some physiotherapy first. So I have just requested an appointment with a physio, but for now I have to deal with constant pain.
I don't like taking pain killers on a daily basis, so that ruled out the ibuprofen. I decided it might be an idea to find something that will support my elbow while I do tasks which make the pain worse, such as using the vacuum cleaner or carrying the shopping.
So I found myself in Boots and parted with £18.99 for an Elastoplast Tennis Elbow Support.
I was unaware Elastoplast made anything other than, er, elastoplasts, but they actually offer several sports injury products for joints, as I discovered on my visit to Boots.
The Tennis Elbow Support is basically a black polyester strip with a pad inside which fastens through a loop with Velcro. Sounds very simple, and it is.
You wear the support on your lower arm, just below your elbow. The blue pad inside is called a "Tendon Pad" and it should be placed, not surprisingly, over tendons which are causing you pain. This places pressure on your tendons and muscles, alleviating pain there.
You fasten by pulling the strap around your arm and fastening with the Velcro when it becomes comfortable and you can feel it offering you support.
So...does it work?
Well, yes - but not on a permanent basis. It is designed for use in sporting activities so I tend to only wear it when I am doing something particularly physical. However if I find my pain particularly bad in the morning I will put it on to ease my poor elbow into the day, as it offers really good support for it. I also wear it if I am doing a lot of typing as using the keyboard seems to aggravate the pain.
I do think for what this is that the price is a bit on the steep side - it is basically a strip of polyester, nylon and polyurethane foam and even allowing for the development of this, the price seems expensive. So if you need it for tennis elbow, it might be worth asking your doctor if they will prescribe it for you, something I am wishing I had done now. However if you bear in mind its tough and hardwearing, won't run out like a packet of painkillers or even a silicone injection, then I suppose its fairly good value for money.
If you suffer from tennis elbow and need something to help you do either sporty activities or anything which involves you using your arm, I recommend this as a good way to make life a little easier. Just don't think it's a permanent solution however!
Helps provide targeted relief from forearm pain.