If you wake up with a sore elbow, it might be tennis elbow. This common condition is caused by the overuse of the muscles and tendons in your forearm, leading to pain and inflammation.
While rest and ice are the best treatments for tennis elbow, you can also do a few things to help yourself sleep better at night. This article will give you those must-know tips on how to sleep with tennis elbow.
But First: What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the muscles and tendons around the elbow joint. The condition is also called lateral epicondylitis.
It’s most commonly found in tennis, but can also affect other athletes, manual labourers, or anyone who overuses their forearm muscles.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Pain on the outside of the elbow
- Soreness or tenderness when touching the affected area
- Weakness in the forearm muscles
- Difficulty extending the arm fully.
- Pain that gets worse with activity and improves with rest
Tennis elbow is usually diagnosed based on your symptoms and a physical examination. Your doctor may also order X-rays or an MRI to rule out other conditions.
How To Sleep With Tennis Elbow: 15 Tips That Will Help
Here are a few tips for sleeping with tennis elbow that will help you get a better night’s rest.
1. Use a Pillow Under Your Arm
If you’re having trouble keeping your arm still at night, try placing a pillow under your elbow to keep it elevated. This will help reduce swelling and pain in the morning.
But if you have pain that radiates up your arm, you might want to consider sleeping on the other side.
You may also find it helpful to wear an arm sling at night. This will keep your arm from moving and help you sleep better.
2. Use Ice or Heat Before Bed
You can use either ice or heat to help reduce pain and swelling in your elbow before bed. Make sure you wrap the ice or heating pad in a towel to avoid injuring your skin.
Try using ice for 20 minutes, then heat for 20 minutes. You can do this several times throughout the day as well as before bed.
One more tip: many people find that taking a hot bath before bed helps them sleep better. So, give it a try if you have access to a tub!
3. Take Over-The-Counter Pain Medication
If ice and heat aren’t helping, you can try taking over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Just follow the directions on the bottle and never take more than the recommended dosage.
This is especially important if you have other medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, or kidney problems.
Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before taking any medication, even over-the-counter drugs.
4. Try Using a Splint
If you’re still having trouble sleeping at night, you might want to try wearing a splint. This device helps keep your arm in one position and can be worn during the day or at night.
There are a few different splints, so be sure to talk to your doctor or physiotherapist to find the one that’s right for you.
But what most athletes use as a splint is an “elbow sleeve”, which is a compression garment that helps with blood flow and support.
5. Stretch and Massage Your Muscles
Stretching and massaging your muscles can help reduce pain and improve your range of motion. It’s best to do these exercises during the day. But if you’re having trouble sleeping, they can also be done at night.
One simple stretch you can do is to extend your arm out in front of you and use your other hand to pull your fingers back towards your palm. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then release and repeat.
You can also massage your muscles with a tennis ball or foam roller. Just be sure not to put too much pressure on your elbow.
6. Compression Garments
Compression garments like elbow sleeves or compression gloves can help reduce swelling and improve blood flow. They can also support and stabilise the muscles and tendons around your elbow.
These garments are usually made from a breathable material like Lycra or spandex, so they’re comfortable to wear day and night.
If you buy a compression garment, get one that fits well. It should be snug but not too tight.
7. Pain Cream
There are a few different types of pain creams that can be helpful for tennis elbow. Some contain anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, while others have ingredients that numb the pain.
One of the most popular pain creams is capsaicin cream, which contains a compound found in chilli peppers. This cream works by blocking pain signals from the nerves to the brain.
Just be sure to wash your hands after applying the cream, as it can cause a burning sensation if it gets in your eyes or on your skin.
You can find these creams over the counter or online. Just read the directions carefully and never use more than the recommended amount.
Acupuncture is a Chinese medicine therapy in which thin needles are inserted into the skin at predetermined locations. This is considered to improve circulation and relieve pain by releasing tension in the body.
There’s some evidence that acupuncture can be helpful for tennis elbow. One study found that it was more effective than a sham or no treatment.
If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, find a qualified practitioner who uses sterile needles and follows all safety guidelines.
Surgery may sometimes be necessary to relieve pain from tennis elbow. This is usually only recommended if other treatments haven’t worked and the pain is severe.
Surgery involves releasing the tension on the tendons in your elbow or removing damaged tissue. It’s a relatively simple procedure that can be done as an outpatient, meaning you won’t have to stay in the hospital overnight.
Recovery from surgery usually takes 4-6 weeks. You’ll need to rest your arm and avoid strenuous activity during this time.
10. Sleep on Your Back
If you have tennis elbow, it’s essential to sleep on your back with your arm at your side. This position will help take the pressure off of your elbow and allow it to heal.
If you’re used to sleeping on your stomach or side, getting used to this new position may take a few nights. But it’s worth it to avoid further pain and injury.
If you have trouble sleeping on your back, you can try propping yourself up with pillows or using a body pillow. Some pillows even have built-in arm supports to keep your elbow correctly.
11. Strengthen Your Muscles
One of the best ways to prevent or treat tennis elbow is to strengthen the muscles around your elbow. This will help take the strain off your tendons and improve joint stability.
There are a few different exercises you can do to strengthen your muscles. One is called “wrist curls.” To do this exercise, sit with your forearm resting on a table and your hand hanging over the edge.
Slowly curl your hand up, then release it back to the starting position. Repeat this 10-15 times, then switch arms.
Another exercise is called “forearm pronation/supination.” This exercise works the muscles in the front and back of your forearm.
Hold a weight in your hand with your palm facing down to do this exercise. Next, slowly turn your hand so your palm faces up, then return it to the starting position. Repeat this 10-15 times, then switch arms.
Note: Always consult a professional before doing the above exercises
12. Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress
A memory foam hybrid mattress is a good option if you’re looking for a mattress to help relieve your tennis elbow pain. Memory foam contours your body and takes the pressure off of your joints.
A hybrid mattress combines the benefits of memory foam with the support of an innerspring mattress. This makes it ideal for people with joint pain, as it provides both comfort and support.
When shopping for a memory foam hybrid mattress, look for one firm enough to support your body, but soft enough to contour your curves. You might also consider a mattress with a built-in pillow top for extra cushioning.
13. Physical Therapy
Another treatment option for tennis elbow is physical therapy. A therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen the muscles around your elbow and improve your joint stability.
Therapy can also help relieve pain by stretching and massaging the muscles in your forearm. In addition, some therapists may use electrical stimulation or ultrasound to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Physical therapy is usually done 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks. Most insurance plans will cover at least some of the cost of therapy.
14. Take Supplements
A few supplements can help reduce inflammation and pain in your elbow. One is turmeric, a spice containing curcumin, a compound with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have shown that curcumin can reduce inflammation as effective as ibuprofen. It can also help improve joint function and range of motion.
Another supplement to consider is fish oil. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation. It can also help improve joint function and reduce pain.
15. Don’t Forget to Rest
It’s essential to give your body time to heal, so be sure to take a break from activities that aggravate your elbow. This includes sports, lifting weights, or any other type of repetitive motion.
You might need to take a few days off from work or school if your job involves a lot of typing or writing. Taking regular breaks and using proper ergonomics can help reduce the strain on your elbow.
If you’re still experiencing pain after trying these treatments, be sure to see your doctor. You may need to be referred to a physical therapist or orthopaedic surgeon for further treatment.
How To Sleep With Tennis Elbow: Frequently Asked Questions
Is Tennis Elbow Worse at Night?
Tennis elbow is a type of repetitive strain injury that can cause pain and inflammation in the elbow and forearm. The pain is often worse at night, making it difficult to sleep.
Several treatments can help relieve the pain and allow you to sleep more comfortably. Our tips above can also help you get better sleep with tennis elbow.
Can I Massage My Tennis Elbow?
Yes, you can massage your tennis elbow, but it’s essential to be gentle. Massaging the area too hard can make the pain worse. Instead, try using a light touch and circular motions. You can also use ice to reduce inflammation and pain.
Is Heat or Ice Better for Tennis Elbow?
Ice is typically the best option for reducing pain and inflammation from tennis elbow. Heat can actually make the pain worse. If you use heat, apply it for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
What is the Best Exercise for Tennis Elbow?
The best exercises for tennis elbow are those that stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the elbow. Therapists often recommend exercises that involve resistance bands or weights. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity to avoid aggravating your injury.
When Should I See a Doctor For My Tennis Elbow?
If you’re experiencing pain that lasts more than a few days, or if the pain is severe, you should see your doctor. You may need to be referred to a physical therapist or orthopaedic surgeon for further treatment.
What is the Best Resting Position For Tennis Elbow?
The best resting position for tennis elbow is to keep your arm elevated. This helps reduce swelling and pain. You can also apply ice to the area for 20 minutes.
What is the Fastest Way To Get Rid of Tennis Elbow?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to treat tennis elbow depends on the severity of your injury.
However, some treatments that may help include icing the area, taking anti-inflammatory medication, and doing exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the elbow.
How To Sleep With Tennis Elbow: Our Final Thoughts
Tennis elbow is a common injury that can be painful and debilitating. But with proper treatment, you can get relief from your symptoms and get back to your normal activities. And if you follow our tips, you should get a better night’s sleep despite it as well.