As an athlete, bodybuilder, or someone who just enjoys sports for the fun of it, you’re probably no stranger to elbow pain. It can be caused by any number of different things, ranging from arthritis and tendinitis to strains and sprains, especially when building your triceps. Here are some of the treatment options that can help you relieve your pain.
The RICE Method
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It’s the first line of treatment for a variety of injuries, including elbow pain. When you first notice pain, make sure that you rest the affected elbow. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes out of every hour to help reduce swelling, which only exacerbates the pain. For compression, consider wrapping your elbow with an elastic bandage. This will further reduce swelling and limit your range of motion, which will not only prevent further irritation, but will also allow your elbow to heal more quickly.
Injections of corticosteroids, or cortisone, is a go-to treatment for athletes and bodybuilders suffering from tennis elbow pain. Tennis elbow occurs due to the overuse of the arm, forearm, and hand muscles, and it can sometimes occur after hyperextending the elbow joint. Corticosteroid injections can help relieve the pain by reducing inflammation at the source. Simply put, cortisone injections work so well because they reduce highly localized inflammation quickly, and over a very long period of time.
Some physicians have begun offering a procedure called platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, to help relieve elbow pain associated primarily with tennis elbow. In a nutshell, you’ll have a small amount of your own blood drawn. Then, a laboratory technician will place your sample in a centrifuge, which concentrates the platelets and separates them from red and white blood cells. Finally, those very platelets – along with some of the plasma from your blood – are injected directly into the painful area. It actually encourages inflammation in the area, and some doctors believe this leads to faster and more effective healing.
In some very rare cases, surgery is needed to relieve elbow pain. This typically depends on the condition or injury causing the pain. Tennis elbow is the most common type of elbow pain among bodybuilders, and it only rarely requires surgical intervention. In these cases, surgery may be performed to release the tendon by cutting it, to remove severely inflamed tissue that does not respond to treatment, or to repair tendon tears that occur due to hyperextension of the joint. While you may be able to come home from the hospital the day after your surgery, it takes between three and six months to completely recover.
Elbow pain might be the result of something as simple as overuse, which can be remedied with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. On the other hand, it could be a sign or symptom of something far more serious, including arthritis or even torn muscle and ligaments. Fortunately, doctors and surgeons have numerous options to help you treat your pain and get you back in action.