How To Prevent Tennis Elbow

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Tennis elbow is one of the most common causes of arm pain people experience. It is estimated that 1-3% of people develop this per year. Tennis is a game enjoyed by many, from the very young to senior citizens. Due to the nature of the sport, injuries can happen instantly or gradually. Tennis elbow, however, can occur without ever having picked up a racquet as well.
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Naturally, it would be very beneficial to know how to prevent such injuries, including tennis elbow. Look no further, as we have some precautions that you can take to avoid tennis elbow. 

At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, we understand the amount of frustration that your elbow sports injury can cause. Between our two offices located in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia, we have over 50 years of experience helping many recover from arm injuries, including tennis elbow. Contact us today to restore your peace of mind knowing that your elbow will be in good hands with us!

 

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) is one of the most common forms of tendonitis. It affects the outer anchor point of our elbow. Our elbows have very little muscle and fat protecting them, making them prone to injury, especially if engaging in high-impact sports, such as tennis. 

Tennis elbow most frequently occurs between the ages of 35-50 as our tendons begin to age, even if we remain quite active. 

While this condition commonly affects tennis players who grip their racquets too tightly, lateral epicondylitis can affect anyone. In most cases, tennis elbow affects your dominant arm. However, there is a possibility that the effects of tennis elbow can be felt in both arms.

 

Tennis Elbow Symptoms 

The symptoms of tennis elbow usually come on gradually, with pain increasing over time. Some of the common symptoms of tennis shoulder include the following: 

  • Pain or a burning sensation that can be felt on your outer elbow. This pain may travel down to your wrist.
  • Pain when bending or twisting your arm. For example, you can feel this pain when turning a doorknob or opening a jar. 
  • Swollen/tender elbow joint.
  • Stiffness and/or pain when stretching your arm out. 
  • A weak grip, especially when attempting to hold your racquet or even someone’s hand.

 

What Causes Tennis Elbow? 

Tennis elbow is caused by repeated stress and overuse of your forearm muscle. As a result, the tendon that attaches your muscle to the bony part of your elbow (lateral epicondyle) takes on more weight. You will feel inflammation and pain when this tendon is stressed beyond its toleration limit.  

While this condition can be caused by playing tennis, there are several other professions and activities that can cause you to get lateral epicondylitis. Common activities can include:

  • Gardening 
  • Lifting heavy bags
  • Using power tools 
  • Carpentry 
  • Painting 
  • Plumbing, etc. 

Additionally, tennis elbow can be caused by a sudden, single elbow or arm injury. On occasion, some can develop tennis elbow without being able to identify a particular reason for it. 

 

How Can Tennis Elbow Be Treated?

While tennis elbow may be able to heal on its own, the healing process can be slow, up to 10-12 months in some cases. Tennis elbow can be treated by means of nonsurgical methods to expedite your recovery. This is especially true if you can see a specialist before your symptoms become severe.

Nonsurgical treatment is successful in upwards of 90% of patients who experience this. Our goal is to employ nonsurgical treatments to help you heal without the need for surgery. Some nonsurgical treatments that have helped many include:

  • Rest 
  • Ice 
  • Compression
  • Keeping your arm elevated 
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Forearm muscle stretches
  • Modified activities 
  • Splinting/Bracing
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections to reduce pain and swelling 

If you are still experiencing pain once these treatments have been exhausted, surgery may need to be considered.

 

How Can You Prevent Tennis Elbow?

There are many steps that you can take to prevent tennis elbow and the pain that is associated with it. Doing so will help you enjoy playing the sport that you love for many more years and make everyday tasks a lot easier to accomplish.

You can prevent tennis elbow by:

  • Implementing strengthening exercises into your routine to build muscle strength and improve the quality of your tendons. 
  • Modifying your daily activities to avoid putting a strain on your forearms, muscles, and tendons.
  • Stretching and warming up.
  • Using proper technique. 
  • Not pushing through your pain. Take a break when necessary.  
  • Using the proper equipment. Make sure the racquet you use is the appropriate size for you, thus reducing stress on your forearm. 

Tennis elbow can slow you down and cause a lot of uncertainty because of its crucial role in arm functionality. However, you can regain peace of mind and relief from your pain at our Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow offices in Atlanta and Marietta, GA. 

Relief from your tennis elbow pain could be at your fingertips. Call to schedule an appointment with us today!

Medically reviewed by

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon