How Can Heat Help Heal And Soothe Tennis Elbow

Man Raising His Right Arm

How Can Heat Help Heal And Soothe Tennis Elbow?

‘Tennis elbow’ (lateral epicondylitis) – a painful condition caused by overuse of the forearm muscles – affects up to 3% of the population and between 10% and 50% of tennis players during their careers, reports the Cleveland Clinic. If you have experienced a painful injury of this nature, you may have immediately thought of the RICER (rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral) method. While ice is, indeed, recommended in the acute phase of injury (the first 24 to 48 hours), heat may be one of your best allies after this phase. 


What Type Of Activities Cause Tennis Elbow?

Lateral epicondylitis is by no means limited to tennis, since it can affect any person who takes part in activities involving repetitive wrist, elbow and arm work. Just a few sports that result in this type of injury include golf, baseball and bowling. Tasks such as garden work, cleaning, carpentry, and factory work can be equally damaging. Even simple games like darts can cause lateral epicondylitis, especially among frequent or professional players. Indeed, throwing darts involves both repetition and forceful forward motions. Ensuing injury can cause tendons in the elbow and arm to swell, resulting in pain and an inability to carry out similar movements.


Why Heat?

Heat promotes circulation throughout the affected arm, relaxing and expanding muscles to speed up healing and reduce pain. You can apply heat in many ways, with Warm Buddy wraps being a convenient and easy solution that will avoid you having to use a hot, wet rag. The wrap should be between 105º and 110º in temperature, and should be applied for between 15 and 30 minutes. Don’t overdo it, since you don’t want to burn the skin. In addition to applying heat, you can also take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen, or apply an anti-inflammatory skin to the sore area. You can also use a brace on your forearm just beneath elbow level, to reduce pressure on your tendon and avoid painful motions that can worsen your injury. Your doctor may also recommend exercises to stretch the tendon out and to boost strength. If pain persists, ask your doctor about a corticosteroid injection, which will soothe pain so you can complete your rehabilitation exercise routine.


Strength Training A Big Help For Tennis Elbow

In addition to relying on heat and medication, says the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), light strength training can make a big difference when it comes to alleviating pain. The AOSSM recommends simple bar and strengthening exercises using an inexpensive rubber bar. Researchers stated that compared to standard treatments such as corticosteroid injections, strength training “is not only cost effective but dosage is not limited by the patient having to come to a clinic.” If this, alongside other approaches, doesn’t work after a period of six to 12 months, surgery is considered a last resort. Tennis elbow surgery essentially involves debridement of damaged tissue to stimulate the growth of new, healthy tissue.


Tennis elbow is a common injury that occurs when repetitive movements are made with the forearm. It affects not only tennis players, but many athletes who engage in this type of movement – as well as many individuals carrying out daily tasks or playing games such as darts. The RICER method is usually prescribed for the first couple of days, followed by heat and rehabilitation exercises. If you have experienced this injury, see a doctor to rule out more serious damage and to formulate a strategic plan to ensure you heal in as short a time frame as possible.

Article Written by Jennifer Ellen