Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a type of tendonitis that affects the tendons that join the outside of the elbow with the muscles of the forearm.
It typically develops in response to overuse of the elbow and may cause significant pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Soreness and tenderness in the outer or top part of the elbow are the most common symptoms.
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The injury, as the name implies, is associated with tennis and other racket sports, though it can also result from sudden violent injury or other repetitive tasks and sports like golfing.
Fortunately, the condition is usually temporary and easy to relieve at home through wrapping and taping.
How to Wrap Your Elbow
Bracing your elbow joint can help reduce stress and discomfort, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Using wraps is one way to do that. These help stabilize the joint. They also compress inflamed tissues to minimize swelling, which is why they are sometimes called compression wraps.
When wrapping, use an elastic, non-adhesive wrap. Try the ACE 3" Elastic Bandage with Hook Closure pack (Amazon.com, $13.99 for 2).
Follow these steps to wrap your tennis elbow:
Hold the loose end of the rolled wrap against your arm close to your elbow.
Wrap the bandage twice around your arm so that the bandage overlaps itself. This will keep the loose end secured against your arm when the wrap is finished.
Roll the wrap a few times over your elbow and to the other side of the joint. Keep the pressure fairly firm to counteract the swelling that will result from the injury.
Secure the end of the wrap with tape or metal clips. (Some packages include these.)
How to Tape Your Elbow
Kinesio or KT tape can help relieve pain, aid in grip strength and improve functionality in people with tennis elbow, according to a March 2020 International Journal of Surgery review.
Kinesio tape is an elastic one-sided tape that, when stretched between points of your elbow, provide support for the joint. They may also act as a cue for your muscles to further stabilize the joint. Try KT Tape Original Cotton Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Athletic Tape 10" Strips (Amazon.com, $10.53 for 20).
Here's how to use KT tape for tennis elbow:
Bend your arm at a 90-degree angle and feel the outside of your elbow with your fingertips to locate the lateral epicondyle bone. It feels like a rounded projection or small ball at the end of your humerus bone, next to your elbow, and points outward when your arm is folded and placed against your torso.
Bend the affected elbow slightly while your arm hangs at the side of your body, and apply KT tape around the elbow about 2 cm below the lateral epicondyle. Apply the tape parallel to your wrist.
Apply the tape to the outer side of the elbow firmly and to the inner portion of the elbow gently. Taping too tightly inside your elbow can interfere with circulation.
Remove the tape and readjust if your symptoms do not improve or if you experience a worsening of pain. This may indicate the tape is on incorrectly.
Remove the tape slowly by pressing down on the skin nearest the tape mark and gently pulling the tape away from the skin. Replace the tape every 24 hours, or more often if it becomes wet or damaged.
If the taping doesn't help ease the symptoms of tennis elbow or the pain persists, talk to your doctor.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.