Tennis Elbow Taping
The following tennis elbow taping technique is designed to support the elbow and reduce stress on the forearm extensors and lateral epicondyle (figure 1) during activity. It can be used for both the treatment and prevention of Tennis Elbow and may be useful for patients with Golfers Elbow.
You should discuss the suitability of this taping technique with your physiotherapist prior to using it. Generally, it should only be applied provided it is comfortable and does not cause an increase in pain, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness, swelling, itchiness or excessive redness of the elbow, forearm or hand.
What sort of tape should be used to tape my elbow?
There are many different tapes and bandages available for use by physiotherapists and patients. However, when the purpose is to support the elbow, 38mm adhesive, non-stretch (rigid) sports tape is usually the most appropriate. This should always be used in combination with hypoallergenic tape as an underlay, such as Fixomull.
Benefits of Tennis Elbow Taping
When used correctly, tennis elbow taping can:
- Decrease pain during sport or activity
- Aid healing of certain elbow injuries
- Allow an earlier return to sport or activity following injury
- Reduce the likelihood of injury aggravation
- Prevent the recurrence of elbow injuries (such as tennis elbow) during high risk sports or activities (such as tennis, gripping activities etc.)
Indications for Tennis Elbow Taping
It is generally beneficial to use tennis elbow taping in the following instances:
- With certain elbow injuries – such as tennis elbow and sometimes golfers elbow (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist as certain elbow injuries should not be taped – such as some fractures).
- To prevent injury recurrence or injury aggravation – Tennis elbow taping may be beneficial during sports or activities that place the lateral epicondyle at risk of injury or injury aggravation (such as tennis, gripping activities, using a hammer etc.) especially in patients with a past history of tennis elbow.
When should I avoid Tennis Elbow Taping?
Tennis elbow taping should be avoided in the following instances:
- If you have certain injuries such as some fractures (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist).
- If you have a skin allergy to sports tape.
- If the taping technique results in an increase in symptoms such as pain, ache, itchiness, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness, swelling or excessive redness of the elbow, forearm or hand.
- If you have sensory or circulatory problems.
Weaning off tennis elbow tape in general activity is usually recommended as strength and flexibility improve and symptoms reduce. In these instances though, taping during high-risk activity (such as some sports) is usually still recommended.
Tennis Elbow Strapping
The following tennis elbow taping technique may be used to provide support to the elbow (lateral epicondyle). Generally it is recommended that the elbow is shaved 12 hours prior to taping (to prevent painful removal of hairs and skin irritation). The skin should be cleaned and dried, removing any grease or sweat. Low irritant Fixomull tape should be applied as an under-wrap to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation with rigid sports tape over the top of this.
Tennis Elbow Taping
Keeping the elbow in a slight bend, tape around the elbow approximately 2cm below the lateral epicondyle (the bony prominence on the outer aspect of the elbow) (figure 2). Apply the tape firmly to the outer aspect of the elbow and gently at the inner aspect of the elbow to prevent circulatory problems. 1 – 3 pieces of tape may be used depending on the level of support required. For additional support, use your fingers to pull your skin towards the tape as it is applied, forming a skin crease under the tape at the outer aspect of the elbow.
Occasionally this taping technique may be made more effective by rolling up a small section of tape into a small roll and placing it horizontally across the forearm extensors and underneath the tape (figure 3). The size, shape and exact location of this roll may need to be tailored to the individual to ensure maximal comfort and minimal pain.
Tennis elbow taping, if applied correctly, should result in a decrease in symptoms during activities that are normally painful (such as gripping). If the taping results in an increase in symptoms then it has not been applied effectively and should be removed.
Golfers Elbow Taping
Removing the tape
Care should be taken when removing the tape to avoid injury aggravation or skin damage. The tape should be removed slowly, pulling the tape back on itself with pressure placed on the skin as close as possible to the line of attachment of the tape.Generally tape should be removed within 48 hours of application or sooner if there is any increase in pain or symptoms (including skin irritation or itchiness).
Tennis Elbow Taping Summary
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