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Tennis elbow is something that everyone has heard of. Most people might think it only affects tennis players, but that is far from the truth.
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a chronic affliction suffered by many, not only tennis players. According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, between 1% and 3% of all adults report the characteristic tennis elbow symptoms every year.
However, with improvements in medical care, there have become more and more options available for the treatment of this painful issue. Some of the most popular options include a tennis elbow sleeve, compression brace, or an adjustable strap.
To give you a deeper understanding of what tennis elbow is, what it is caused by, and how to navigate around it, we will walk you through our buyer’s guide for the 5 best tennis elbow braces and straps.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a term used to describe chronic inflammation and pain in the elbow joint. Particularly, it’s related to the bony protrusion of the humerus bone in your upper arm. The 2 bony protrusions of the humerus are called epicondyles.
If you take a look at your arm with your palm facing up, the part of your elbow facing outwards is your lateral epicondyle. That part, basically outside of the elbow, is the source of pain with the tennis elbow condition.
Since 3 bones in total make up the elbow joint, there are many muscles, ligaments, and tendons attached to hold it together and allow movement.
The lateral epicondyle is the point of attachment of a wrist muscle called the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). And, with overuse of that muscle, the tendon at the lateral epicondyle becomes damaged.
Tennis elbow can affect anyone who repeatedly uses or injures this arm area or anyone who strains it in their daily activities. Athletes are some of the most common victims due to their intense physical activity, repeated daily activities, and general elbow injuries.
Amongst the people who are also likely to be affected by this painful condition, are painters, plumbers, and cooks.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Pain in the area of the lateral epicondyle
- Reduced strength in the grip
- Pain in the lateral epicondyle that increases when using the forearm muscles
- Reduced blood flow in the elbow area
Tennis Elbow Treatment
Fortunately, the majority of people who suffer from tennis elbow can recover without surgical intervention.
A doctor will first assess the severity of the injury, possibly with the aid of diagnostics. Then, the most common forms of primary tennis elbow treatment involve physical therapy, cold therapy, maintaining an overall active lifestyle, resting the overused muscle, pain relief medication, and using an elbow brace.
What is a Tennis Elbow Brace?
A tennis elbow brace is a garment worn to alleviate the pain that comes with the condition. It functions by applying direct pressure to the ECRB muscle. This, in turn, reduces the strain on the tendon attachment at the lateral epicondyle and increases the grip force strength.
With continued use of an elbow brace or sleeve, the aim is to lessen the inflammation, thereby reducing the pain.
Another important aspect is blood flow, elbow braces should not cut off blood circulation. This might help for pain relief in the short term, but it will bring bigger problems over the long term.
When looking for a tennis elbow brace, the main things to consider are the type of brace, the material, the closure system, the size, and the warranty. If you are in a lot of pain and you are not sure which type of the much-needed support would be best for your case, refer to your medical doctor to get professional medical advice.
To help you narrow down your search, we’ve compiled a list below of the best tennis elbow braces, straps, and sleeves.
What is the Difference Between Tennis Elbow Braces, Straps, and Sleeves?
Tennis elbow braces, straps, and sleeves all work in similar ways to attain the same goal. They all aim to help with pain relief in the elbow joint by supporting the elbow through compression. The best elbow braces will not only reduce discomfort, it will also reduce strain on the elbow muscles and joints so that the cause of the problem can be addressed.
The main difference between braces, straps, and sleeves is just the different design features and the different types of support they offer. An elbow brace, like the Bracoo elbow brace EP30, is a bigger support brace that goes over the entire elbow and compresses the area while also supporting the movement of the elbow joint.
An elbow strap, like the Simien tennis elbow strap, is much smaller and sits in front of the elbow compressing the muscles in from of the elbow. Elbow sleeves or compression sleeves are a mix of the previous two – they sit over the entire elbow and compress the area while also offering some support to the elbow joint.
How Does Compression Help for Tennis Elbow Pain Relief?
When the area around the elbow receives support, it helps in several ways. The compression from a sleeve or brace supports the muscles in the area which reduces muscle strain and fatigue.
The biggest reason for lateral epicondylitis is the overuse of the elbow joint and the extensor muscles outside of your elbow. When these areas receive support, it can reduce pain and inflammation.
Is Tennis Elbow the Same as a Golfer’s Elbow?
Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are not the same thing, although they do affect the same area, their symptoms are similar, and their treatments are similar. Tennis elbow affects the area outside of the elbow, while golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) is inside of the elbow.
Both of these conditions create extreme pain and discomfort for those who are struggling with it. Golfer’s elbow, as the name suggests, is most common among professional golfers due to their countless hours of repetitive practice.
It is also possible for someone to suffer from both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow at the same time. This can happen to people who participate in activities where both the lateral and medial sides of the forearm are strained over and over again.
In most cases, this will be tennis players, golfers, and rock climbers. In these cases, a more serious program is required to combat the painful and limiting effects of these conditions.
Bracoo Elbow Brace EP30
- Type: dual-support
- Material: latex-free neoprene
- Closure system: hook and loop, velcro
- Size: max 13″ above elbow
- Price: $16.99
The Bracoo Elbow Support brace offers dual support. This means that it wraps around the arm above and below the elbow joint. It’s made of a breathable neoprene fabric, which is safe for people with latex allergies and which increases blood circulation in that area.
The EP30 also has adjustable support, so that it can fit most people. However, keep in mind that dual support braces are often less comfortable because they cover a large area, and are bulky.
The Bracoo elbow brace is made from 4-way stretch fabric which allows it to compress evenly around the elbow.
This elbow brace is highly recommended by physical therapists and doctors and can be used to treat a variety of issues including tennis elbow, tendinitis, golfer’s elbow, bunion, and arthritis.
Simien Tennis Elbow Strap
- Type: strap
- Material: latex-free, 65% neoprene, 35% nylon
- Closure system: Velcro
- Size: one size fits all
- Price: Less than $12.97
The Simien tennis elbow brace features a strap style. It’s a very simple designed wrap that fits right on the tendon attachment of the elbow. The Simien tennis elbow strap is small, so it makes it easier to maintain a full range of motion as compared to the Bracoo elbow brace EP30. The Simien elbow strap is also latex-free and is made of a neoprene-nylon blend.
You can easily adjust the strap to fit anyone. The pack includes 2 elbow straps, a gel pad for comfort, extra straps for smaller arms, a sweatband, and an ebook on tennis elbow pain. This one is definitely a good deal! For the low price of less than $13, this is the best value deal that you will find.
Kunto Fitness Elbow Brace
- Type: sleeve
- Material: 70% nylon, 15% spandex, 15% rubber
- Closure system: none
- Size: xs-xl
- Price: Less than $19.97
The Kunto Fitness compression sleeve is the most flexible elbow brace on our list. It’s a full sleeve that slips on and covers both above and below your elbow. This is a great option for anyone who wants some added support without wearing a very bulky support brace that will restrict movement.
Athletes will find the Kunto Fitness elbow brace especially useful because they can compete with confidence without sacrificing movement and range of motion.
Although, it doesn’t state whether it’s latex-free. The full sleeve applies pressure evenly across the elbow joint, which helps reduce pain. This one’s a really good option to discreetly wear beneath clothing.
Mueller Adjustable Elbow Brace
- Type: dual-support
- Material: nylon 58%, neoprene 28%, spandex 7%, natural rubber 3%, polyester 2%, pvc 2%
- Closure system: 2 velcro straps
- Size: one size fits all
- Price: Less than $13.45
The Mueller elbow brace features a dual-support design. It can adjust to fit most arms but the material is not allergy-friendly. So, if you’re allergic to latex, stay clear of this model.
They claim it retains body heat, which promotes healing. And, it offers an antimicrobial-treated material, which helps prevent stains, odors, and wear and tear.
Mueller also carries a very respected name as they have been in the industry for more than 60 years.
Sleeve Stars Tennis Elbow Strap
- Type: strap
- Material: latex-free, 65% neoprene, 35% nylon
- Closure system: buckle, velcro
- Size: fits 9-23″ forearms
- Price: Less than $14.95
The Sleeve Stars tennis elbow strap is another small design, made to target the elbow area with pressure. The material is latex-free and is a neoprene blend. Plus, it’s sweat absorbent, and breathable.
The added perks with this purchase are that it comes with 3 different length straps, an instruction manual, and an ebook on tennis elbow pain.
Before you buy any kind of elbow support, we recommend you visit your physician or physical therapist first for a thorough examination. Once you are diagnosed with tennis elbow, they can then devise the appropriate treatment plan for your specific case.
The main takeaways are that if you prefer to keep your brace hidden and enjoy more flexibility, you should go for either the elbow strap or compression sleeve. Depending on the intensity of your pain, a dual-support brace may serve you better.
Hopefully, we’ve given you some inexpensive and quality options to get you started!
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