Most long time tennis players have to deal with the common of tennis injuries. Through the repetitive motion of swinging a racket over and over again, sometimes thousands of times, many players develop what is called “tennis elbow.” It happens even to the best and most committed athletes because there is only so much the human body can take. This most common of all tennis injuries can happen fast but usually takes a long time to develop and is stubborn to remove.
Even though most people that get this condition ironically do not play tennis, it can still happen to those that do. It’s true that is a bit of a misnomer to call it tennis elbow, but let’s look at some of the symptoms and causes the condition.
The signs of trouble happen when pain radiates from the elbow in question. The actual part of the elbow that is in pain is called lateral epicondyle, which is located on the outer portion of that body part. It can go all the way down to the wrist and inhibit the movement of that joint and cause great pain in even lifting light objects. The pain can be greater at night for some people while others contend the swelling increases while they sleep and when they awake in the morning the pain is greater.
This radiating, constant pain can extend from the outside of the elbow all the way to the forearm and wrist and can be excruciating for many sufferers. It can affect not only their sports activities but also everyday activities like lifting grocery bags out of the car or even tying a pair of shoes! If left unchecked, this condition can only get worse and even more debilitating, especially if the repeated movement continues while that body part is under disproportionate pressure on one side and hence the initial problem. This is important to remember; if one side, let’s say the right side, is used far more often than the other in an oft repeated motion, it can cause a breakdown of that joint.
So now we know what it feels like and what might cause it, what are some ways to help the elbow heal and get back to normal?
One of the best things to do is be in overall tip top physical condition from the get go. This will mean a stronger, healthier body from the very beginning of training and hence prevent much of the problem before it begins and help heal your body faster if there is this injury. Another quick fix is the simple act of decreasing or even stopping all physical activity.
The injured person can also strengthen the muscles of the forearm, bicep, triceps, shoulder and upper back. Doing this will distribute much of the pressure placed upon the affected body part, the elbow, and increase weight and sheer motion the wrist is responsible for. Many times injuries happen because of weak supporting muscles and can be fixed by strengthening them.
Surgery is sometimes an option but for those that do not wish to go this route can try consistent icing and sports massage of the surrounding area. Someone can also choose to try an injection of steroids into the painful area of the elbow. In addition to massage therapy, using self myofacial release and transverse friction across the elbow can aid in recuperation. Using ultrasound or laser therapy has been shown to reduce pain, inflammation and promote healing in the elbow. Some users proclaim that acupuncture is an effective means of relieving pain but this treatment must be done consistently if results are desired.
A newer treatment option is called extracorporeal shock wave therapy. This treatment works by using these shock waves, which are short but intense energy waves, into the injured area in hopes of stimulating healing.
No matter which treatment you chose, stay with it and stay with your game.