For years I have suffered with a pretty bad case of Tennis Elbow caused from 20 years of drumming hard rock and with the last 10 years of keyboard and mouse use. At this point, you can enter your own joke about what ELSE I’ve been doing. I’ll wait.
Anyway, what IS tennis elbow? Here lookie:
Doctors first identified Tennis Elbow (or lateral epicondylitis) more than 100 years ago. Today nearly half of all tennis players will suffer from this disorder at some point. Interestingly though, tennis players actually account for less than 5 percent of all reported cases making the term for this condition something of a misnomer.
Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow
- Recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm just below the bend of the elbow; occasionally, pain radiates down the arm toward the wrist.
- Pain caused by lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects such as a coffee cup.
- Difficulty extending the forearm fully (because of inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments).
- Pain that typically lasts for 6 to 12 weeks; the discomfort can continue for as little as 3 weeks or as long as several years.
The damage that tennis elbow incurs consists of tiny tears in a part of the tendon and in muscle coverings. After the initial injury heals, these areas often tear again, which leads to hemorrhaging and the formation of rough, granulated tissue and calcium deposits within the surrounding tissues. Collagen, a protein, leaks out from around the injured areas, causing inflammation. The resulting pressure can cut off the blood flow and pinch the radial nerve, one of the major nerves controlling muscles in the arm and hand.
Tendons, which attach muscles to bones, do not receive the same amount of oxygen and blood that muscles do, so they heal more slowly. In fact, some cases of tennis elbow can last for years, though the inflammation usually subsides in 6 to 12 weeks.
Many medical textbooks treat tennis elbow as a form of tendonitis, which is often the case, but if the muscles and bones of the elbow joint are also involved, then the condition is called epicondylitis. However, if you feel pain directly on the back of your elbow joint, rather than down the outside of your arm, you may have bursitis, which is caused when lubricating sacs in the joint become inflamed. If you see swelling, which is almost never a symptom of tennis elbow, you may want to investigate other possible conditions, such as arthritis, infection, gout or a tumor.
So, there ya go. Thanks to TennisElbow.net for their info. For a few years I went to a therapist and he would massage me and shock me. Kinky? Not really. He would actually attach electrodes to my arms and shock me. It hurt like hell sometimes, but in that John Cougar Mellancamp type way.
One of the greatest things for any pain is ICE. Ice is a miracle. You’ll never hear a frozen man say “my back hurts.” From HackSports.com:
How Does Ice work? Ice is a vasoconstrictor (causes a narrowing of the blood vessels) which can limit bleeding at the injured area. Ice also causes a pain relief effect by numbing the area that it is applied too. Ice should be applied to an area for 15-20 minutes per hour. The time between icing allows the skin to return to normal temperature and normal blood flow to continue. You can ice several times a day to continue to reduce the inflammation.
Is one form of Cold therapy better than another? The simple answer is NO. There are many high quality cold therapy products from DuraCold, DuraSoft, Snow Pack Cold therapy products, and Col-Pac. However, you can get good results with ice in a plastic bag, a bag of frozen peas, or even ice massage from a Styrofoam cup (peel the cup down as the ice melts).
This still leaves the question “Why use Heat?” Heat is generally favored for chronic injuries that have no inflammatory response. Chronic injuries are injuries that result from the cumulative effects of repeated exposure to small amounts of trauma that do not cause acute symptoms.”
Notice there that basically heat works for “injuries that have no inflammatory response.” In other words, (my doctor told me) that heat can actually WORSEN tennis elbow. Something to do with chemical buildup and creating an environment in which it gets worse blah blah. I don’t remember much, being that I was being massaged and shocked.
So here are the steps: (and bear in mind this can hurt like hell..don’ do it for a LONG time, you’ll hurt your skin. I typically soak for 15 minutes, switching between arms.)
1) Empty sink:
Notice that we had brownies the night before, and no one licked the bowl. Shameful.
2) Fill the sink:
3) Fill the sink full of ice:
4) Soak. This is the hard part. It really hurts. How did Leo do it in Titanic? I keep a towel near me to set my arms on, but I don’t let them get warm, I just take it out once it starts hurting:
Ok you nerds, go to gaming. But seriously, do your stretches and sit properly. If you don’t now, you will regret it. TRUST me. I have this pain all the time, and I’m only 23. (ahem.) And by god, if you start to feel pain while you play, STOP playing. Or drink more beer.