If you’ve never experienced tennis elbow, consider yourself lucky – for several reasons. For the 6.5 to 9.5 million Americans each year that suffer from tennis elbow, this painful condition is tough to ignore.
Caused by overuse of the tendons in the forearms – from activities like tennis, gaming, carpentry, playing musical instruments, crafting and more – tennis elbow may start with mild discomfort and gradually worsen to constant pain. This causes difficulty grasping objects like a coffee cup or toothbrush, elbow stiffness and numbness or tingling in the fingers. Because pain is experienced when performing the repetitive activity – whether that’s lifting weights, chopping food or gardening – it eventually becomes virtually impossible to do.
Treatment is essential with tennis elbow, as this injury rarely goes away on its own. Fortunately, there are multiple treatment options – starting with at-home, inexpensive self-care, such as rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, stretching and strengthening exercises and ice and heat therapy. However, to address the root cause of tennis elbow pain, professional healthcare intervention generally is recommended.
Basic options, such as braces or compression sleeves or massage, are typically not covered by health insurance but are relatively affordable. Among the many other therapeutic regimens, individual health insurance policies may or may not provide coverage, so it’s important to check with your insurance company first before seeking treatment for tennis elbow.