Tennis elbow is typically an overuse injury associated with the repetitive use of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the elbow joint. Pain associated with this is commonly attributed to tendon damage. The pain may begin near the joint and spread from elbow to wrist. Doctors often refer to the condition as lateral epicondylitis. Tennis elbow support can be used to decrease pain and improve range of motion. Common supports include elbow braces, wraps, straps, and arm bands.
The term 'elbow brace' is often used to describe an elbow sleeve that slides over the forearm and onto the elbow. These sleeves can provide pressurized support for local muscles and connective tissues, but are not truly braces. A brace is a hinged tennis elbow support that prevents the arm from moving in certain directions. Hyperextension tennis elbow support braces stop the joint from moving past normal extension or hinder rotation of the joint. Overload braces are typically used in baseball, volleyball, and throwing, and absorb some of the stress normally placed on joints during overhead movement.
Tennis elbow support wraps may be used with or without an elbow sleeve. These are often made from cotton and Lycra®, or some other elastic material. Stored in a roll, wraps are used as pressure supports for the muscles and connective tissues of the elbow. When using an elbow wrap, it is important not to cut off circulation to the lower arm by pulling the wrap too tight.
Straps may be one of the most popular tennis elbow supports. Straps can be made from small bands of material with Velcro® connections. Some straps are filled with air to place pressure on a specific part of the elbow for support. Others use magnets to protect the elbow during activity. Typically, tennis elbow support straps are worn on the forearm just below the elbow.
Muscles affected by tennis elbow run from the joint to the wrist. Newer arm band support models connect two arm bands together for additional support. With these, one armband is tightened just below the elbow on the forearm, and the other just above the wrist.
Tennis elbow support is used as a counterforce during arm activity. This force spreads the energy commonly absorbed by elbow activity to other parts of the arm. Because the condition is a repetitive, stress-related injury, reduced force exerted on the joint and surrounding muscles may mean less pain. Over the counter pain medications and physical therapy may help decrease healing time when used with tennis elbow support.