When you have minor aches and pains in your elbow, you may not think you have to do much about it. Although you might not need to see a doctor unless the pain is acute or persists long-term, you still have options for relieving the pain. Don't let a bum elbow keep you from enjoying your favorite activities - look into giving it some extra support.
Main Causes of Elbow Pain
The main causes of elbow pain are either acute injuries or wear-and-tear injuries. Certain diseases can also cause elbow pain.
With acute injuries, you usually know what happened. Some of the most common injuries are sprains or strains. These conditions occur when you've been pushing or pulling too much, and you've caused either stretching or tearing of the ligaments (sprain) or the muscles and tendons (strain). Other causes of acute pain are an obvious accident that causes a dislocation or a fracture.
Wear-and-tear injuries occur with repeated motion. This repeated use often results in tendinitis, which manifests itself in problems like tennis or golfer's elbow. Tennis elbow is pain on the outside of the elbow while golfer's elbow is pain on the inside. You can also trigger bursitis, which consists of small sacs of fluid on the joint getting inflamed.
Elbow pain can also be a symptom of disease, particularly arthritis. You typically feel a deeper pain, and the condition is often accompanied with swelling. Gout and lupus can also create pain in the elbows.
If you think you have an acute injury or if the pain persists even when you're resting, consider seeing your doctor. However, an elbow brace can help with other types of injuries.
How an Elbow Brace Helps Relieve Pain
One of the common elbow braces you'll see in a medical supply store is the elbow strap. This brace consists of a band that affixes below your elbow joint. It has an insert or a pad that compresses the affected area. The strap further reduces pain by counterforce bracing your tendons, meaning the pad puts takes pressure off the painful area and distributes it to unaffected areas.
You'll also see compression braces for the elbows, though they're not as common. Like the pad in the elbow strap, a compression brace provides targeted compression on the affected area. It also provides additional support so that you can continue your activities.
For acute injuries, you'll probably need a hinged elbow brace. These braces consist of a full sleeve with bilateral hinges. Hinged braces are normally prescribed for hyperextended elbows.
How to Choose an Elbow Brace
If you have tennis or golfer's elbow, and you need to continue working, consider one of the compression braces. These braces are lightweight and can be hidden under work clothes.
Unless your doctor prescribes a hinged brace for a specific injury, you'll probably be buying an elbow strap. For the most part, they work the same. However, you can look into some of the special features that different brands offer.
For example, not all elbow bands feature a pad for targeted compression. The pad does add some bulkiness to your arm. You may also not feel as comfortable with compression on the painful area. Some straps feature a band that runs under the elbow for additional support instead of compression. Along with the compression brace, this brace is ideal for people with arthritis.
Even if you choose to compress the area, you might pick between a compression pad or an air cell. A pad is usually a semi-soft build-in filled with gel. Air cells are firmer, but you usually have the option of removing it.
Finally, look into some of the mechanics of the brace. Some styles use Velcro closures directly, while others feature a pull-Velcro closure. If you have any latex allergies, you'll want to steer toward braces that label themselves latex-free. Lastly, look into how heavy the brace feels. You'll probably want a lightweight strap if you're going to be wearing it all day.
Alleviate your elbow pain with a supportive brace. Visit All Florida Medical Supplies for a wide range of braces and expert advice.