Elbow Pain After Tennis

Tennis can be a great game, providing fun competition and exercise. With all exercise and activities, sprains and strains can develop. Sometimes people develop pain on the outside of the elbow that is immediately known as Tennis Elbow. Tennis elbow is a strain of the muscle and tendons that attach to the outside of the elbow, or lateral epicondyle.

The technical definition of tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis, which affects the muscles that extended the wrist. The wrist extensor muscles are commonly injured in tennis or any activity that causes forceful contraction of the hand, wrist, or elbow. Injuries are common from turning a screw driver, pulling weeks, lifting weights, or typing at a computer with poor posture.

Over the time the muscles and tendons become overwhelmed from repeated use and develop injuries. Mild injuries can heal in a week or two with rest and ice. However, most of us ignore the injury until it becomes painful to shake hands, lift a gallon of milk, or turn a door handle.

Tendon injuries follow several basic rules

  1. Severe injuries produce more pain.
  2. Chronic is bad - Injuries that have been around for months take longer to heal.
  3. It does not get better with continued use. The muscle and tendon need time to heal.
  4. It always takes longer to heal than you think it should.
  5. It does not get better with ignoring the injury.

Treatment goals are to reduce the pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms. It is important to find ways to decrease the stress and strain on the muscle.

You do not have to stop playing tennis but you might need to modify how much you play. If it feels OK after three matches but hurts after 5, play 3 or 4. Wear the brace! A tennis elbow brace will decrease the strain on the tendon, which will help it in the healing process. Ice is important, people who ice more get better faster. Over the counter medications or topic treatments are sometimes recommended for treatment to decrease pain and inflammation. Physical therapy treatments are great options for speeding the recovery, especially in severe or chronic cases. Cortisone injections can be used to decrease pain and inflammation, especially if you do not get better with conservative treatment first.

More information can be found for treating Tennis Elbow.

Additional information can be seen here for elbow exercises and elbow stretches.