Persistent elbow pain and inflammation can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. An orthotic treatment for tennis elbow, such as bracing, can provide long-term relief without the risks associated with injections and other forms of treatment.
Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is a condition that affects roughly 1% to 3% percent of the general population. This condition results from overusing forearm muscles and tendons through repetitive motions, such as swinging a tennis racket. When these muscles and tendons become damaged and inflamed, it causes your elbow pain and weakened grip strength. To combat this condition and continue enjoying your favorite activities, orthotic braces can help reduce tension and pain while improving your elbow function.
The Benefits of Orthotic Braces
Orthotic treatments for tennis elbow offer a suitable alternative for those with persistent or severe pain who do not respond to other forms of treatment like steroid injections and physical therapy. While braces promote relief as quickly as these alternatives, consistent wear has proven to reduce pain in the long term.
Nonsurgical treatment using orthotics involves wearing a supportive brace on the afflicted arm to support pain-free grip strength. There are several bracing options, all of come in various designs and sizes which offer those with tennis elbow a convenient way to go about their daily activities. These options can be worn all day, or only while performing certain activities that usually cause pain, but they should not be worn when sleeping.
Counterforce Orthotic Braces
Counterforce braces help keep pressure off of the inflamed muscles by spreading tension to different parts of your arm. Instead of continually stressing the same forearm muscles and tendons when making certain movements, wearing a counterforce brace allows them to rest by re-distributing this pressure.
By helping ease tension and stress on the affected area, counterforce braces help promote healing and healthy elbow function. These braces typically work most effectively when they support the back of your forearm, since this allows the muscles in that area to rest and heal. For this reason, proper placement of pressure pads and straps that make up counterforce braces is essential.
Counterforce orthotic braces come in a couple of different design options. These include:
- Elbow straps. This type of counterforce brace offers more comfort and does not interfere with your range of motion as much as elbow sleeves can.
- Elbow sleeves. This type of counterforce brace fully covers your elbow, much like a wrist splint fully covers your forearm. While elbow sleeves might restrict movement, they do have the added benefit of providing warmth to the area, which can help to enhance the healing process.
This type of orthotic brace holds your forearm firmly in place and gives your forearm muscles a chance to rest. However, wrist splints might not promote grip strength as effectively as counterforce braces. Wrist splints work by immobilizing the forearm, rather than spreading pressure throughout the arm. This helps prevent the wearer from using those muscles, which assists healing, but it might not be as successful at providing pain relief.
If you or someone you know has been experiencing ongoing elbow pain, contact Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics to learn about alternative orthotic treatments for tennis elbow at (501) 683-8889. Schedule an appointment to speak with an orthotist about which bracing treatment will be most effective for you.