Tennis player overusing elbow equals tennis elbow

by Jsantos, March 15, 2013

Tennis Player Overusing Elbow = Tennis Elbow

Have you heard of tennis elbow? If you are reading this surely you have. Known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a condition caused by overuse of the elbow join. A situation well appreciated among tennis and/or racket players. However, other activities may cause it as well.

Really painful and uncomfortable, tennis elbow is basically an inflammation of the tendons joining the forearm muscles outside the elbow. Excessive usage of the structure ends up in a critical damage translated to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.

If you are enrolled in activities such as tennis or racket ball or any other where you overuse your elbow (could be a butcher or domino player)  and start to feel the pain described, you should contact an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible. He can evaluate the condition, make the right diagnose and start the adequate treatment. Normally, treatment is a team approach. Your orthopedic doctor plus physical therapists and sometimes surgeons join efforts to provide the best and most effective care.

Once  I met this particular guy. He was a perfectionist. One of those obsessive people who wants to emulate the best of whatever they are doing. G, to give a code name was a very good brazilian tennis player. Back in his country, he obtained great accomplishments and was growing as a player. One day, while I was traveling to Rio, I got to meet him trough a friend of mine. Knowing my medical background, he approach me: “You know, I have been having this unusual pain in my elbow… is growing exponentially. I didn”t think it was that serious but now I am starting to worry”. Our common friend winked at me. “His tennis is driving casino online him insane”. Cased closed, tennis elbow.

He clearly didn”t know anything about it and its symptoms.

So, what are the symptoms then?

Just like G, in most cases the pain starts mild and increases with time (weeks to months). The misleading you may experiment comes from the fact that injuries are not involved. Usually patients think they need to injure to suffer this kind of pain. However, this is not the case for tennis elbow syndrome. If you feel:

  • Your forearm is weak with a strange overall sensation and has lost grip strength
  • Pain or a burning sensation on the outer part of your elbow join

You are most likely affected. It is recommendable to stop any activities related to the forearm: shacking hands, holding your racket or any other. Now, the condition may appear at any age. However,  is common among the group of people whose ages are between 30 and 50. In sports like tennis, improper technique and equipment may be a risk factor too.

G asked: “What do I do now?”. I replied…

Treatments can be surgical or non-surgical. Studies show that 80% to 95% of the cases can be solved without a surgery. G felt better. “These are your options:”

  • Rest: Always the first step. As soon as you are affected, any elbow activities must be stopped to prevent further damage and promote recovery.
  • Brace: A system created to support rest, braces centered over the back of your forearm may help relieve the pain.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines: Aspirin or Ibuprofen help reduce swelling.
  • Steroids injections: Cortisone is a very effective anti-inflammatory medicine. Your orthopedic doctor may inject your muscle to relieve the symptoms.
  • Shock wave therapy: Sound waves to the elbow. They basically stimulate your natural healing process by creating a “microtrauma” within the area affected.
  • Equipment evaluation: Improper equipment may lead to tennis elbow. Evaluating it may ensure preventing yourself from future injuries. This a must for tennis and racquetball players.

What if I don”t feel better after a while?

If by 6-12 months your symptoms persist, your orthopedic doctor may recommend surgery. Options may vary depending on your particular case. However, the procedure normally involves removing diseased muscle and reattaching healthy one back to the bone.

“Don”t worry G, is a quick  and safe surgery” I replied. “There are some risks involved, like in any other surgery… they are minimum. You will be alright”

Last thing I knew from G is that he left tennis and became an actor. Anyways, if you having doubts with your elbow pain, stop and evaluate this information. Maybe, you don”t want to be an actor.

Surgeon”s Advice | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201  Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119


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