Tennis elbow can be a misnomer since it affects more than just tennis players.
Carpenters, musicians, painters, and even gardeners can suffer from tennis elbow. Whatever activity you engage in that involves repetitive elbow motion can lead to tennis elbow. If you plan to play tennis this summer, or if you have a job that requires constant elbow motion, here is a guide to help save you from suffering a case of tennis elbow.
Defining Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is pain on the outside of the elbow caused by damaged tendons attached to the elbow. It is usually associated with repeated motions or overuse. In sports it can occur for many reasons with the most common being someone who doesn’t play tennis regularly, or is just beginning to play. It can also occur to those who take up the sport after many years away.
Tennis elbow results in a weakened grip and pain in the elbow even when lifting something as light as a coffee cup. Swelling may occur at the affected elbow site and pain can be quite severe when lifting, twisting, or gripping objects.
Prevention Tips Specifically for Tennis Players
First and foremost it is important to warm up and properly stretch before beginning to play. That’s a universal “non-negotiable” rule for most sports in order to prevent injury. For tennis players there are other situations and components to consider.
Check your swing technique and see if adjustments may be needed. Talk to a coach or someone familiar with the sport and be sure you are following all the mechanics necessary for proper form, including:
- Exercise to stretch and strengthen the wrist and forearm muscles.
- See if the racquet is too big or too heavy which can put extra stress on the elbow.
- Find the proper grip size and tension.
- Always use two hands for a backhand swing.
- Use the shoulder and upper arm muscles to relieve stress on the elbow.
- Wear a splint or brace
Simple Exercises for Preventing Tennis Elbow
- Touch your fingers to your thumb and use a rubber band to keep them together.
- Then stretch your fingers and thumb and slowly open all the way.
- Do this 25 times, 3 times a day.
- Use two rubber bands if it becomes too easy to open.
Wrist Extensor Flex
- Raise the arm straight out in front of the body.
- With the palm facing down, slowly bend the wrist upwards.
- Using the other hand, gently pull the fingers back towards the body.
- Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Straighten the wrist again.
- Repeat twice.
- Do two or more sets of 3 repetitions.
At the First Signs of Tennis Elbow
If you begin to feel the slow pain of tennis elbow, you can often achieve a bit of relief by applying ice for 20 minutes three times per day, using a compression bandage, and taking OTC anti-inflammatories. Inquire about physical therapy and see Greater Rochester Orthopaedics for proper diagnosis of your symptoms persist. A cortisone injection or other treatments may be needed to relieve significant damage to the tendon.
Don’t wait for tennis elbow to get worse. See Dr. Michael Yip promptly at the first signs of tennis elbow.