Despite its name, tennis elbow, a condition that affects the muscles and tendons in the arm, causing pain and inflammation, doesn’t only affect tennis players. Other athletes, like those who play baseball, are also at risk for developing tennis elbow, as are painters, plumbers, carpenters, and butchers.
This is particularly important to keep in mind if you have pain in your elbow—even if you’ve never picked up a tennis racket in your life, you may still be suffering from tennis elbow. In this month’s blog posts, we’ll be answering some questions you may have about tennis elbow, including its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
There are a number of different factors that can contribute to the development of the tennis elbow. However, the most common cause is the overuse of the muscles in the forearm, particularly the ones that you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist. The overuse of these muscles, typically the result of performing the same motions over and over again, can cause pain and inflammation in the tendons that attach these muscles to the bone. This is often the case with athletes, as well as those who have jobs that require them to perform the same motions day after day.
Tennis elbow can also be caused by poor form. If you don’t have proper form when you’re playing a sport or doing a job that requires repetitive motions, you’re more likely to injure the muscles and tendons in your arm, leading to tennis elbow. Similarly, poor equipment can also contribute in this way. If you’re using equipment that isn’t of appropriate quality or is in poor condition, you’re more likely to develop a tennis elbow.
Lastly, age can also be a contributing factor. As we age, our muscles and tendons become less flexible and more brittle, which makes them more susceptible to injury, including tennis elbow.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow?
If you think you may have tennis elbow, there are a few symptoms you should look out for, including:
- Pain on the outside of your elbow
- Weakness in your forearm
- Difficulty extending your arm
- Difficulty gripping objects
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor like Dr. Rytel. As a board-certified orthopedic and sports medicine specialist, Dr. Rytel has the experience and expertise needed to diagnose and treat the pain, discomfort, or loss of motion in your elbow.
How Can I Prevent Tennis Elbow?
There are a number of different things you can do to prevent tennis elbow, including:
- Limit repetitive tasks: If you participate in a sport, activity, or job that requires you to perform the same motions over and over again, take a break every so often to give your muscles and tendons a rest.
- Do forearm exercises regularly: Your forearm muscles attach to your elbow, and by strengthening them with simple exercises, you can reduce your risk of developing tennis elbow.
- Warm-up and stretch before activities: As with any type of physical activity, it’s important to warm up and stretch before you start playing or working. By getting your blood pumping to your muscles, you allow them to be more flexible, which improves your range of motion and supports your muscles' ability to deal with added stress.
- Use proper form: This is important whether you’re playing a sport, working a job that requires repetitive motions, or even just doing everyday tasks. Make sure you're using proper form for the task at hand to reduce the risk of developing tennis elbow.
- Check your equipment: Make sure your equipment is in good quality and good condition, whether that's your tennis racket, golf clubs, or your paintbrushes. You also may find it helpful to use a brace or wrap to support your elbow when participating in activities that put stress on your forearm muscles.
How Is Tennis Elbow Treated?
There are a number of different treatments available for tennis elbow, and the best course of treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms. For milder cases, rest and over-the-counter pain medication may be enough to provide relief. However, for more severe cases, you may need physical therapy or even surgery.
Regardless of the severity, working with an expert like Dr. Rytel is important to ensure you receive the best possible treatment. We’ll work with you to create a treatment plan that will relieve your pain and help you get back to doing the things you love.
At Rytel Sports Medicine, we strive to heal our patients through a combination of education, cutting-edge technology, and individualized treatment plans that are designed specifically for each patient. If you think you may have tennis elbow, or if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort in your elbow, schedule an appointment with Rytel Sports Medicine today.