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With the Australian Open Tennis Tournament coming up, many of us will be inspired to brave the weather and go out for a hit. Like with many sports or activities, if it is something our body is not used to doing you may be at risk of injury.
A common injury associated with racquet sports is Tennis elbow and it usually begins with pain around the outside of the forearm or elbow. Here is some information to help keep you on the court this Summer.
What is tennis elbow?
Lateral epicondylitis, also known as ‘Tennis Elbow’ is a repetitive use injury causing micro trauma to the tendon that attaches into the outside of your elbow. The muscles that attach into this tendon move your wrist, hand, fingers and forearm.
What causes tennis elbow?
Unfortunately it is not just isolated to racquet sports and occurs often in repetitive computer use, heavy lifting and repetitive vibration of the upper limb. People can also present with this condition when their jobs involve repetitive one sided movements such as electricians, carpenters, gardeners, desk bound jobs.
Specifically to racquet sports, other causes can be string tightness, grip size, poor technique and reduced range of motion through the upper body or shoulder.
What are the Common Symptoms of tennis elbow?
Apart from pain, the area around the elbow could be tender to touch or swollen and with a feeling of weakness or stiffness in your forearm. Often movements like gripping a handshake or opening up a door may be painful or feel weak.
How do you treat Tennis elbow?
For an acute flare up of tennis elbow it is recommended to use RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may also help.
If your pain does not improve it’s advisable to see a physiotherapist. From an assessment a physiotherapist will suggest exercises to improve the mobility and strength of the muscles in your arm, and give you strategies to help prevent strain to the injured site. One strategy that is commonly used is a tennis elbow strap or support.
Corticosteroid injections are also an option to reduce pain. However this is addressing the symptoms of the injury and not the cause. Although rare, if conservative treatment has not provided relief surgery may be an option.
How do you prevent Tennis elbow?
- Increase your training or activity load gradually
- Do specific exercises to improve the strength and mobility or your upper limbs
- Improve your technique
- Conditioning through regular physical exercise
- Seek help and make sure your racquet is right for you
- If you are in the offseason, maintain your physical activity
- Warm up and cool down
- Cross train or mix up your exercise routine
If you would like more information, or would like to book an appointment with James, please call one of our friendly team on 9639 7432.
About the Author
James Morrison — Physiotherapist
James graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science and then completed his Masters of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney in 2014. With a particular interest in treating sporting and spinal injuries, James believes in a person centred, hands on approach.