How to choose the best tennis elbow brace that fits your needs and budget - Be My Healer
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How to choose the best tennis elbow brace that fits your needs and budget

Support for elbow injury side view (tennis arm)

Suffering from tennis elbow pain [check tennis elbow symptoms here] can be debilitating. One of most popular pain relief items that people can purchase for elbow pain is a tennis elbow brace.

However, if you type in tennis elbow brace, you will likely be overwhelmed by the large amount of varieties and options.​ How do you know which type of tennis elbow brace maybe better for you? How do you decide if the cheaper option is as effective as the more expensive brand? Will you need to wear the brace for the rest of my life?

In this post, I will try to break down the information for you and help you make the most informed decision in choosing a tennis elbow brace.

​How does a tennis elbow brace work?

Tennis elbow braces work by applying pressure to the common wrist extensor muscle, thus changing the direction of stress placed on the inflamed muscle tendon and achieving pain relief.

What is a tennis elbow brace used for? An elbow brace is not a cure, is it a protection. It will allow you to do your daily necessities such as driving, eating, or holding your baby with less pain. It can prevent additional injury and irritation to a certain degree.

What is a tennis elbow brace NOT meant for? No elbow brace is meant to allow you to continue repetitive wrist and hand activities that gave you this condition in the first place (unless you are a new mom). An elbow brace is not an immunity card. Just because you are experiencing less symptoms, does not mean that you aren't getting injured more. Same principle with pain pills.

Tennis elbow healing is slow and tedious. Most people who actively treat and protect their condition will improve in three months. However, if you are at high risk for developing tennis elbow due to your sport or job activities, you may wear a lightweight elbow brace in long-term for protection.

Now, let's shop for an elbow brace.

Tennis elbow straps

Tennis elbow straps are the most common types of elbow brace. It applies compression to your upper forearm to protect the inflamed muscle tendon. A common mistake while putting on the tennis elbow strap is that people often put the strap over the painful spot. The tennis elbow strap should be worn slightly below the most painful part of the elbow.

tennis elbow strap location

Pros: Small, adjustable, easy to put on, good support, affordable

Cons: May become uncomfortable if worn for too long. May slip or rotate once sweaty, compression is not precise.

Recommendation: The elbow straps are good options for those suffering from typical tennis elbow symptoms, needing to perform daily activities or chores with less pain

Not recommended: These straps do not support golfer's elbow, bicep tendonitis, elbow bursitis, or cubital tunnel compression syndrome. They also do not provide enough support for sport activities.

Best affordable tennis elbow strap

Mueller Tennis Elbow Strap is a highly affordable option that you may find in most local drug stores. 

It is great for those who want short term use, performing light hand activities, and having only mild symptoms​. It has a small gel pad and simple velcro design.

Not for those who need a brace for over 30 min each time, planning to use it for more than 2 weeks or are having significant symptoms.​ Prolonged usage may lead to skin irritation.

Best value tennis elbow strap

SIMIEN Tennis Elbow Strap is a favorite among many similar products due to it's quality and value.

The thick gel pad provides enough comfort for long hours of busy activities. It also has lifetime warranty for its durability. This strap is highly recommended for moderate work and sport uses. 

The disadvantage is that the strap is kind of bulky to be worn under sleeves.

Tennis elbow sleeves

Elbow sleeves are stocking-like braces worn over the entire elbow joint, covering some of the upper arm and forearm. It provides protection and gentle compression to all muscles surrounding the elbow joints. In addition, it also keeps elbow joint warm, facilitating the healing process and preventing muscle spasms or joint stiffness.

Pros: Comfortable, large compression coverage, easy to put on, affordable

Cons: Limited compression, lack of adjustment, may become too hot in summer

Recommendation: Elbow sleeves are great options for those with high risk jobs for developing tennis elbow, or whose who have experienced repeated flareups of elbow pain in the past. You can wear elbow sleeves on a regular basis because it is the most comfortable type of elbow brace.

The sleeve is also an excellent choice if you have multiple conditions in your arm involving the elbow joints and muscles around it, such as bicep tendonitis, golfer's elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome, elbow bursitis, etc. If you have finger and hand numbness and suspect cubital tunnel syndrome, you can wear the sleeve to sleep.

Not recommended: The elbow sleep has limited compression to provide enough support and relief for those with intense tennis elbow pain, or needing to perform intense gripping or pinching.

Best lightweight elbow sleeve

The copper compression elbow sleeve is so lightweight that it feels like a stocking.  It is also invisible under clothes and still provides compression as promised. 

This elbow sleeve is great for those with sensitive skin and chronic elbow pain to wear on regular basis for compression support. It can also provide post surgical patient incision protection with maximum amount of comfort.

However, this sleeve has poor endurance and may need replacement in anywhere between 1 week to three months of use.

Best protection elbow sleeve

This Kunto elbow brace has fancy stitching work to allow a combination of thickness and flexibility. It provides support for stability during more intense activities. 

This elbow sleeve is great for work and sport uses on a regular basis with good durability. Unlike the lightweight alternative, it also provides cushion and warmth to support tissue healing for all elbow related conditions. 

Due to the increased thickness and rigidness, you may experience fitting problems. Long hours of wear may also cause discomfort.

Epicondylitis clasp

This elbow brace is mostly considered to be a medical supply. It consist of a plastic clasp or wide clip that fits onto the elbow in a specific way to place pressure accurately on the correct part of the wrist extensor muscle to provide pain relief. 

Pros: High accuracy for pain relief, protect tennis elbow injury from high impact activities

​Cons: Requires learning curve to be able to fit the brace correctly to achieve the desired protection and pain relief, expensive, lack of comfort

Recommendation: This brace is excellent for high performance athletes to be able to continue training while recovering from a tennis elbow condition

Not recommended: ​A combination of factors such as price, comfort and learning curve make this brace not "worth it" for people who are not into competitive sports. However, people who failed to find pain relief and protection from other forms of elbow braces may give the clasp a try.

If you choose to try this brace, bring it to your MD appointment to get proper instruction​ on fitting it right.

I hope you find a tennis elbow brace that fits your needs and budget. In addition to protecting your tennis elbow injury, you should help your tissue to heal by doing these tennis elbow self-treatments at home, and perform tennis elbow exercises and stretches on a regular basis. Best of luck to you for a full recovery from tennis elbow pain, and may it never bother you again.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.

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