Another episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast is out! In TQT 015, you’ll learn all about one of the most feared injuries in tennis – tennis elbow (ack!). Check out “How to Prevent and Treat Tennis Elbow” to learn exactly what you can do to deal with and, hopefully, prevent ever getting tennis elbow.
Below is an edited version of the transcript for this episode that you can read through for notes and to get more information. Links to resources are included at the end of this post.
I bet not a week goes by that I don’t play someone who has one of those compression thingies on their forearm because they suffer from tennis elbow or have in the past. I see that enough that I have become pretty concerned about this devastating injury happening to me. Especially because I know that one of the best treatments for tennis elbow is to just stop playing tennis! Never!
Unfortunately, so many players I know have tennis elbow or have had it that it seems inevitable that we’ll all get it one day. Maybe you are already a tennis elbow sufferer. Or maybe, like me, you just want to make sure you don’t end up becoming one.
So let’s talk tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow can affect as many as half 50% of all tennis players at some point in their career. It is more common in men than women, sorry guys, and most often affects players aged 30 to 50, although you can get it at any age.
Tennis elbow occurs when the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to your elbow are damaged. It is an over-use injury and is frequently caused because a player is using the wrong equipment or technique. It usually occurs in your dominant arm, so in your right arm if you are a right, and can be exacerbated by grasping, gripping or twisting motions. Basically, the exact kind of motions you use to play tennis.
Tennis players can get tennis elbow from:
- A poor backhand technique
- A racquet grip that is too small
- Strings that are too tight
- Or playing with wet, heavy balls
And side note here – I would like to know who exactly is playing with wet, heavy balls to the point that it gives them tennis elbow.
Anyway, tennis elbow cannot be diagnosed by a blood test or by an x-ray. The way to know you have it is by the type of pain you are feeling and the symptoms you are experiencing.
So what are the most common symptoms of tennis elbow? The main symptom is pain, which can start with a dull aching or soreness on the outer part of the elbow. While this may go away in a short time, usually in less than 24 hours after playing tennis, over time, it can take longer for the pain to stop. Eventually, the condition can progress to the point that you feel pain during many everyday activities such as lifting a coffee cup, turning the key in your car, or shaking someone’s hand. The pain can spread to your hand, the rest of your arm, your shoulder and/or your neck.
So let’s say that you are now convinced you have tennis elbow. What can you do?
The good news is that there are plenty of at-home treatment options for tennis elbow. This is an injury that can usually be treated by non-surgical means. So, if you’re currently suffering from tennis elbow, here’s what you can do to immediately reduce your pain:
- Rest and avoid any activity that causes pain in the tennis elbow area. And yes, yes, that may mean taking time off from playing tennis! But this is important because it will give your tendons time to heal.
- Apply ice packs to the sore area.
- Take anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen.