Is Ice or Heat Better For Your Tennis Elbow?
If you think or been told that you have tennis elbow, your doctor may recommend that you use heat or ice on tennis elbow to relieve pain. They might also recommend pain medication or NSAIDs until the pain subsides. Heat and ice are commonly used for relieving symptoms of this painful condition.
Many doctors recommend using ice for tennis elbow right away when pain first begins. Use the ice to help reduce the inflammation and pain that tennis elbow causes. This inflammation places pressure on the nerves that run down your forearm.
Your doctor may recommend using ice packs for elbows 5 to 10 minutes. You should do this every 3 to 4 hours for several days as needed. Make sure to not directly expose your skin to freezing temperatures by using a thin towel, plastic bag or ice pad.
Heat is a solution to provide long-term healing and relief from the pain of tennis elbow. Applying heat to your tennis elbow promotes the flow of blood to this area. The heat relaxes and expands the muscles around your elbow and improves blood flow.
Applying heat is recommended tennis elbow stretches and exercises. The increased blood flow into the area will allow for the full use of your muscles for stretches and promote healing. This extra blood flow helps speed the healing process and alleviates your elbow pain faster.
It is common for doctors to recommend both heat and ice to treat tennis elbow. Your doctor might recommend using heat in between the use of a tennis elbow ice pack. You should only use a heating pad no longer than 10 to 15 minutes a day. Using a heating pad too often could increase the risk of damage to skin and muscles.
When to Avoid Heat or Ice on Tennis Elbow
Heat or ice is important to prevent pain or additional injury for chronic tennis elbow.
Ice is always best to control inflammation. However, you should never ice your elbow before participating in activities that could cause a flare-up. Instead, you should wait to put ice on tennis elbow after your activity so that you prevent possible re-injury or additional inflammation.
Because heat promotes blood flow, you should not use at the onset of an acute injury. It is best to use heat during the healing stages of tennis elbow or after activity for chronic conditions. Because the heat helps loosen and relax tissues, you should use heat before participating in an activity.
Your doctor might prescribe exercises to treat your tennis elbow. He might tell you to use heat once you are out of the acute stage. You should not apply heat after an activity because it encourages over-inflammation. This could slow down your healing time.
How To Get Pain Relief
Short Term Relief
Your doctor will usually recommend a tennis elbow brace or a support strap with a specialized compression gel pad to alleviate the pain immediately. The biggest advantage of a compression gel pad brace is that you can continue to perform the repetitive activity that caused the pain in the first place. It's highly recommended that the braces or straps come off during periods of rest and sleep to give your skin and muscles a break.
If you get a pair of braces (or a 2-Count brace), you can keep one set at home and another in your bag or purse. You will feel comfortable knowing you can get relief on demand if you have a sudden onset of tennis elbow pain.
Long Term Permanent Relief
When performed properly, a series of specific stretches and exercises, performed in the order, sets, repetitions and detailed technique is the best tennis elbow solution. Along with support from a trained medical professional to address any specific issues you may have that may not be typical. And a support group of fellow sufferers who have eliminated their pain permanently.
Additionally, most people don't know that most tennis and golfer's elbow pain originates upstream, specifically the shoulder and neck areas. If you experience shoulder and neck issues, you will need a solution that combines exercises, stretches and an "upstream release method".
Irritation, tightness and impingements in shoulder(s) and neck (usually due to nerve irritation) can propagate down through the arms, elbow (!!), wrist, hands and fingers. This is usually the root cause of most people's tennis elbow and golfer's elbow.
Braces provide the fastest short-term pain relief. But to experience permanent and long-term relief, we recommend a specific set of exercises, stretches and an upstream release method.