Tennis elbow can be a pesky condition that regularly derails the best of athletes. Thankfully, hot and cold therapy treatments are an effective short-term solution in battling the discomforts it causes! Find out how to use heat or ice packs when suffering from tennis elbow and experience reduced pain, stiffness, and swelling.
How Hot and Cold Therapy Helps
So many different things can cause the tennis elbow, and tendon strain of the extrinsic muscles of the elbow is often due to repetitive motion. This repetitive motion often occurs during sports such as golf and tennis that require swinging the arm back and forth over time. Additionally, it could happen from requiring the hand and wrist to be fixed for long periods. Muscle strain can occur easily when one doesn't use proper technique with heavy objects.
The pain and soreness associated with this condition can make daily activities difficult, but it doesn't have to be that way for long periods. With the right treatment options, individuals can get back to doing these sports and hobbies they love so much with ease.
Cold therapy is one option some people prefer to use because it allows them to access necessary medications or treatments without traveling far from their homes. On the other hand, hot therapy may be more suitable for others who prefer higher comfort levels while experiencing the same positive results in mitigating pain.
Cold Therapy for Tennis Elbow
Are you finding a quick, cost-efficient solution for your elbow pain? Try some cold therapy.
The pain caused by the tennis elbow can be significantly reduced with daily cold therapy applications. The treatment option is an affordable, reliable way to manage swelling during the healing process.
How Does Cold Therapy Work?
The benefits of cold therapy are pretty straightforward. A cold pack placed on an injury site constricts the blood flow in that area and causes a healing numbness to take over, relieving pain and swelling. There are three stages in putting an ice pack on injured body parts: aching, burning, and fully cold. Please ensure you get to the third stage before removing ice, but don't keep it on too long after (15 to 20 minutes) to prevent frostbite and unnecessary discomfort.
When to Use Cold Therapy
Cold therapy is a great option for addressing a new injury or aggravation of an injury. It can keep your symptoms of elbow pain and swelling under control to better manage your daily activities. Apply it every few hours for up to 20 minutes immediately after an injury or with the onset of new pain. You can also use it preventively after a workout, or elbow treatment that you know might cause some soreness later, or even before an event where you'll be using your elbows a lot over several days!
Ways to Apply Cold Therapy
There are numerous methods of applying cold therapy. These include using a cold pack, an ice massage from a frozen cup, or using a compression sleeve with ice. If you are using a cold pack, make sure it is cold to provide adequate pain relief. Wrapping it in a thick towel or taking a warm bath will not get you the relief you're looking for.
Heat Therapy for Tennis Elbow
Applying heat to a sore elbow can be a great way to boost recovery.
How Does Heat Therapy Work?
In cases of elbow stiffness and pain, applying heat can be helpful. Applying ample heat to the affected area causes local blood vessels to dilate, allowing for more circulation for healing and softening the muscle tissue.
When to Use Heat Therapy
Heat is the key to an easier, more relaxing time for your tendons and muscles. People who do a lot of repetitive activities throughout the day, like developers, can benefit from using heat to treat soreness. Others can use it to speed up recovery after intense sports or exercise. Exercising without resting can cause aches and pains in your elbow, but constant heat will ensure you get relief whenever you might want it!
Ways to Apply Heat Therapy
There are upwards of five or six different ways to apply heat directly on the part of your body that is injured or sore. These include using a herbal heating pad, hot water bottle, you can use a whirlpool bath if you prefer more intense heat, you can take a hot shower for around six minutes (don't get too cold at the start), and another option is infrared therapy which uses deep heating on specific parts of your arm muscles.
If you haven't decided which one would work best for you in terms of pain management, then moist heat is the way to go since it's most effective for therapeutic purposes on large muscle groups.
When to Avoid Heat and Cold Therapy
Contraindications for cold or hot therapy include:
- Cold or heat sensitivity
- Multiple Sclerosis (heat)
- Open wounds
- High blood pressure
- Poor sensation
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot)
- Vascular (circulatory) compromise
- Unmanaged heart disease
Typically, alternating between hot and cold therapy is optimal for a tennis elbow injury outside of these issues. It is because overuse-type injuries (tendinitis of elbow muscles in this case) respond well to both types of treatment.
We recommend consulting your doctor on the subject or one who specializes within the realm.
Taking Precautions with Ice or Heat Therapy
If you're unsure which options are right or best for you, seek advice from a sports medicine professional or physical therapist. They can educate and advise you on what home treatment options are the safest and most beneficial. When using heat or cold therapy at home, always be aware of your skin's sensations and remove either product if they cause any associated with frostbite or over-heating sensations. There is often a big difference between discomfort and causing damage to muscles! Incorporating other recovery options will help speed up the healing process!