Answered by on Monday, June 1, 2009
Whether it's tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis, or pain on the outside of the elbow), golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis, or pain on the inside of the elbow) or just plain triceps tendinitis (pain and inflammation of the triceps tendon), there's a lot you can try short of adopting channel surfing as your new sport. "First, instead of six months, try two weeks of rest," says physical therapist Jim Kovach, director of rehabilitative exercise at the Renal Research Institute/Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, "And I don't mean couch potato rest. Keep doing cardio work and lower body work—just give that specific tendon a chance to heal." When you do start exercising again, warm up your elbows with a hot pack or heating pad first and stretch both your wrist and elbow (many of the same muscles and tendons attach at both places). Use very light weights and ice the area afterward. You might also want to try using an elbow air cast, which is made specifically for elbow tendinitis. "Wrap it around the painful area before activity and it will disperse the forces on that tendon," explains Kovach. He also suggests altering your upper body training to work around the tender tendons. Instead of doing lateral raises with dumbbells in your hands, strap a 10-pound ankle weight around your upper arm and do the raises that way. If there's still no improvement, Kovach recommends four weeks of intense physical therapy (which must be prescribed by your doctor). Slowly but surely you'll elbow your way back to health.