tennis elbow sufferers

i hung up the paddle early last year due to tennis elbow. i wore the strap and found that a carpal tunnel type brace kept my wrist from flexing which helped a lot. so after a few MONTHS! my elbow felt normal again.

“great”, “yay”, i thought, “i’m glad that’s over”. only it’s not. i just had another attack of the killer elbow. luckily it was mild and only lasted a few days.

how chronic is your elbow? is this a life-long thing? if so, how do you prevent and deal with it? feh! i am bummed.

Use The Strap
I’ve had several go-rounds with tennis elbow. The use of the tennis elbow strap is, for me at least, a major part of the answer - but I HAVE TO USE IT FOR LONG PERIODS, NOT JUST WHEN THE PAIN STARTS. The pain indicates that the tears have started again - so I used the strap almost continuously (put it on in nthe morning, took it off at bedtime) for several months, and used it anytime I was expecting to stress the elbow for well over a year. I also used anti-inflammatories, and the old heat/cold rotation. I did specific exercises to strengthen the muscles - mostly squeeze balls and rubber stretch bands - see a good physiotherapist to get set up with the proper exercises. Finally, I took the advice to stop whatever I was doing immediately when the slightest pain appeared - you can’t ‘work through’ tennis elbow. With all that said, I’ve been pain-free for over two years now, and no longer use the strap, drugs or any other special preventative measures. BTW - the strap I used is called a BAND-IT - I’ve heard it said that works far better than most other models, FWIW.



Yes – use the strap!

– Last Updated: Jan-11-05 4:04 PM EST –

I second that. I had moderate and worsening tennis elbow on the right. Wearing a strap about 20 hours/day -- with breaks to itch and let the skin breathe -- cleared it up in about 6-8 weeks. In fact, the right elbow healed so well, that when I went paddling without a band, it was fine. But the left one started to act up! Now I'm using the band on the mild case on the left, and after about 2 weeks it's almost ready to go out on its own.

Another lesson there: catch it as early as possible and give it the band treatment. Otherwise, the tendon gets in a vicious cycle of constantly irritating itself and getting worse, and irritating itself even more, etc.

Side notes -- I think PT's are great, but I don't believe they can do much for tennis elbow other than show you how to use a band. It's really a matter of letting the tendon heal itself, and that takes time. An MD can give you a steroid injection, but you only get so many of those before the whole tendon starts to go downhill and get fragile. I'd avoid them if possible.)

But you gotta use the band right. I wrote that up here --

I'd like to add one possible note to that from recent experience. I've been trying a couple different bands, and the one that works best has a rather large pad, which not only compresses the muscle better, it also means you don't have to find the right spot so precisely as with a smaller pad.

Wait, let me pull it off my arm and see the brand... whoops, nothing there. I'll post again when I get home and look up the invoice.


One more thought…
I’m not sure of the medicine behind this, but as I play around with my arm, I detect two different muscles which might be involved. One of those contracts to extend the arm straight. That’s the one whose tendon bites me a lot, probably from too much pushing the arm out straight in good kayak racing style.

But there’s another muscle right next to it, and it contracts to curl the wrist backwards. If my amateur anatomy research is correct, that can also get a problem with its tendon where it crosses over the elbow. And it sounds like that may be your problem, since restricting your wrist movement helps, but it doesn’t help mine.

So, you may need a PT to diagnose in detail what’s going on and set you up properly with a band. If my guess is correct, the same thing will work for the wrist-curl muscle, but you’ll have to position the pad slightly differently to hit it. Or maybe it’s both?

IANAD (I am not a doctor), but if this helps, mazel tov.

One more thing. I had wrist problems early in my paddling career. I fixed them with a carefully graded program of forward and backward wrist curls with very gradually increased weights, to build up the forearm muscles. Nary a problem with them since.


Here’s what I do…
…sometimes it’s so bad that I can’t wash my hair.

The strap. Industrial strength naproxin twice a day and tylenol are food groups. Ice. And frequent blood work to keep track of any damage

the naproxin and tylenol may be causing.

As a statistician, when I get a chance to see the

study on naproxin and heart attacks, I may alter my approach to naproxin.

Lateral Epichondolitis
Both elbows, over a period of several years.

Wore the Strap

Did the anti-inflammatories

Cortisone shots (3 in each)

Quit playing golf

Best results; Physical Therapy–combinations of deep tissue massage, stretching, strengthening

Unfortunately mine seems to be re-curring but using some of the PT methods keeps it tolerable.

Sorry, no cure to offer

I believe I made that claim about Band-It in the post that djlewis refers to below. I have let several people borrow mine and none were disappointed with the results. Its really amazing how many sufferers are out there.


Lateral Epichondolitis
Wow! Three cort shots in each elbow? I had one and my doc said no more since they could cause permenent damage to nerves in the area. Well they didn’t work and I had surgury and it worked wonders. I paddle a lot and wished I had done the surgury sooner since I wasted over a year with re-hab, pills, massage etc. But keep in mind my doc specialized in elbows and shoulders and I would really check out anyone who opened me up with a scapel. Recovery was about a month of just stretching and taking it EASY and then I started doing about anything I could handle. Good luck!

Yeah, in retrospect…
Went to a couple of the top Docs in the area. They all said the same thing. With the experience I now have I’ll do the PT thing first. I have quite an aversion to surgery though others I know have had success…

Of course I also wait until I can’t get out of bed before going to the Doc for anything…my wife hates that… ;o)

'Wish I knew the magic bullet for you…
For me, first it was the strengthening exercises and Naproxen. Later, a cortisone injection which worked wonders for about 6 months. The 2nd injection caused the classic reaction where I developed fat necrosis (about a quarter-sized area at the site, and temporary loss of skin pigmentation). I did have a slight decrease in the pain, but a few months later, it became so bad I couldn’t use my arm at all. Then I had surgery, and the doc then found that, in addition to the tears, there was a penny-sized hole in the tendon that may have developed over time from the 2nd injection. The surgery wasn’t bad, and once healed, my elbow was okay, but far from normal. I have to be very careful. I use the wraparound brace also, but it really comes down to just resting the arm. I find that paddling doesn’t bother it nearly as much as loading and unloading the boat! I wish you speedy healing and far better luck than I’ve had. w.d.

sore elbow
I wasn’t able to tell if you were using a canoe or kayak paddle. If your using a kayak paddle try & be sure to lift the blade out with your upper arm & not by flipping your wrist. I know you would want a pretty straight bottom arm with both a kayak or canoe, just don’t lock it, (bad for elbows & shoulders). During paddling season try & avoid weed whacking, leaf blowing & grass shears. I do lots of mileage in summer & if I were planning a 1 hour paddle three days in a row, instead I might do a 1:20, take a rest day & then an easy 45 mins or so. I messed mine up by squeezing a rubber gripper on the drive to a race & it took all winter to get over it.