Using Cold and Heat Therapy to Treat Tennis Elbow
By Kelly Brock, MS of the Cureve Team
Lateral Epicondylitis, or as it is more commonly known as “tennis elbow,” can cause discomfort in an assortment of ways as you go about your day. Maybe your elbow(s) are irritated at work while typing, they ache as you drive for a long period of time or when cooking dinner: wherever it shows up, hot and cold therapy can help alleviate feelings of achiness from this common affliction.
What is tennis elbow precisely? It is an inflammation of several structures of the elbow. Within the structure are muscles, bursa, tendons, connective tissue, and epicondyle which is a bony projection that you may know as the “funny bone.” When there is a repeated stress to this area of the body, it can cause microscopic tears that eventually lead to inflammation and pain.
How is it diagnosed? Careful observations and recall of symptoms, medical history as well as a physical examination can signify if tennis elbow is present. Additionally, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can identify if there are tissue tears and swelling in the area that are contributing to frequent elbow pain.
Tennis elbow is no fun, but fret not, cold and hot therapy has you covered! It's a simple, cheap and natural way to treat those painful elbows. Below is a quick summary of how to use heat and ice on tennis elbow:
Cold therapy is used to increase circulation and relieve pain. It is best to use cold therapy when tennis elbow initially flares up as it will help to reduce swelling to the area. Apply ice to the inflamed area for no longer than 20 minutes at a time and never apply ice or an ice pack directly to bare skin.
Hot therapy can improve blood flow to the inflicted area, increase function of tissue cells and help relieve pain. It can also encourage muscle relaxation which in turn can lessen pain. Heat treatment for tennis elbow can promote healing and increase blood circulation to the area. It should be used after initial symptoms of tennis elbow decrease.
Hot and cold therapy is a great, natural way to help alleviate the pain from tennis elbow and get you on the path to recovery. Once initial symptoms have decreased, you can achieve the best results from cold and hot therapies for tennis elbow by alternating cold and heat for 15 minutes at a time. This is believed to “flush out” the swelling leading to decreased overall swelling, inflammation and pain.
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The Cureve Team