Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) occurs when the tendons in your elbow are under too much pressure from motion in the wrist and arm. Then, tiny tears and inflammation can develop on the outside of your elbow and it can be very stubborn to eliminate once you have it.
Most people rely on ice, pain killers or braces, but that does NOT heal the elbow, because there are underlying muscle imbalances that need to be fixed. Specifically, if the chest and shoulders are tight and the back is weak, when you go into a specific motion, high amounts of stress may be placed on the tendons in the elbow.
For example, when you throw a ball or swing a tennis racquet or golf club, you may be forcing your elbow to decelerate the motion instead of the bigger muscles in the back…
Research has shown that rehab is the most effective way to heal tennis elbow and eliminate chronic pain.
A high quality rehab program fixes the muscle imbalances and postural distortions that cause elbow pain and dramatically improve strength, stability and healthy range of motion, which significantly reduces the risk of re-injury. (American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Journal of Athletic Training, etc.)
Once, you understand that you have specific muscle imbalances that are causing the pain in your elbow, you can see why just putting on a brace will not resolve it. Neither will just resting and icing.
As soon as you start that repetitive motion again (whether in sports or life), the pain will get worse. That is why rehab is so important for getting rid of the pain once and for all and protecting your elbow in the future.
Think of it this way… you were not born with Tennis Elbow, right? So, something you did or are doing is the direct cause for the pain. Studies have consistently shown that rehab allows you to fix the underlying issues and that eliminates the pain.
It is a two step process. First, you want to identify the motion, hobby, sport, etc that probably led to Tennis Elbow. You need to take a little break from it (I’d suggest 2-4 weeks, if possible). Then, get going right away on a great rehab program (like our Tennis Elbow Program) to fix the muscle imbalances and postural distortions that have been created over the years.
Then, once your elbow feels much better, go back to your sport, etc and see how you feel. It should be MUCH, MUCH better. Keep up the rehab moving forward to continue protecting your elbow and to help ensure the pain never comes back.