If you love golf and racquet sports you’ll want to know how to keep your swing in motion and avoid the common hand, wrist and elbow injuries that arise while playing these sports. Specialists from the ONS Hand and Upper Extremity Center, David Wei, MD and Matt Cantlon, MD will discuss the warning signs, causes and treatments for conditions such wrist sprains, golf and tennis elbow, among others. They’ll help you understand the symptoms that should be seen by a doctor, and offer practical advice for injury prevention. Free. Register by calling 203-863-4277 or register online.
ONS Dr. David Wei Talks on Treatment for Tennis Elbow.
Tennis season is in full swing and so are the risks of overuse injuries such as Tennis Elbow.
Tennis Elbow typically happens when a repetitive swinging motion pulls on the extensor tendons that connect the muscles in the forearm to the elbow, creating microscopic tears. Despite its name, there are many types of activities that can injure these tendons, especially those involving repetitive wrist motion. Although it continues to be a mystery as to why some patients develop Tennis Elbow while others are not affected, we do know that the end result is an abnormal change in the quality of the tendon itself, called angiofibroblastic hyperplasia.
Typical symptoms are pain along the outer side of the elbow with wrist motion and with gripping. The pain can be especially exacerbated by activities involving lifting objects with your elbow extended and the palm of your hand facing downward.
Recent data suggests that nearly all cases may resolve spontaneously, and the mainstay of treatment always begins with non-operative options. Avoiding aggravating activities or modifying the way you perform them can help decrease pain. For instance, lift things closer to your body, with your palms up. A splint or a counterforce brace can also help by relieving the strain on the tendon. In some cases, a physical therapy program and possibly injections will help the condition.
Most people don’t require surgery for Tennis Elbow. If, however, non-operative measures fail and the pain persists beyond six months, it may be time to consider surgery to repair the damaged tendons. Recovery time from surgery is relatively fast, but the tendons need time to regenerate, requiring approximately six to eight weeks.
Dr. Wei discusses tennis elbow in greater detail in this video.
Physical Therapist stresses strength building, flexibility and good mechanics
Along with the fun and friendly competition of a great game of tennis, comes the potential for tennis elbow, a degenerative condition of the tendon fibers which anchor the arm muscles used to extend or lift the wrist and hand. Those who suffer from tennis elbow will tell you that it can result in an abrupt end to your tennis season. Below, Tatyana Kalyuzhny, DPT, of ONS Physical Therapy offers the following precautions and tips on conditioning before you even make your first serve.
—Symptoms of tennis elbow often include persistent pain on the outside of the elbow. It usually begins with mild pain and can continue for weeks or months. The pain can be increased by pressing on the outside of the elbow or by a gripping or lifting motion. In severe cases, minimal movement of the elbow joint can send pain radiating into the forearm.
The first line of treatment for tennis elbow is usually rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. After an evaluation, a doctor may prescribe a physical therapy program to stretch and strengthen the muscles in forearm.
Players who lack proper conditioning are the ones who are most vulnerable to most injuries including tennis elbow. Even if you’re a great player with a beautiful swing, if you lack proper conditioning and core strength, you are putting your body at an increased risk for injury. Proper mechanics plays a crucial role in avoiding injuries. The slightest amount of improper alignment can place added stress on tendons and ligaments. You may not notice the ill effects initially, but damage may be cumulative and build to a problem over time.
Conditioning for tennis should include exercises in core and hip strength in multi-directional planes, exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and elbow and eccentric strengthening, which involves contracting the muscles while simultaneously elongating them to help the body absorb shock. In addition to strengthening, players need to maintain flexibility of their calves, hips and shoulders for proper mechanical efficiency.
A good warm-up for a tennis player should include light stretching followed by a gentle, five- to ten- minute rally session on court that employs some lateral and forward shuffles. Warm-up should be gradual and should aim to slowly increase your heart rate and get the muscles ready for play. You should avoid walking onto the court and swinging with full power at the ball.
Six tips for preventing injuries
- Use proper technique. Have your swing and overall technique evaluated periodically by a professional.
- Incorporate a proper strengthening and conditioning program off the court.
- Maintain flexibility by stretching after play.
- Use proper equipment. Play with a racket that is the correct size, grip and weight for you.
- Wear proper footwear designed for tennis and not worn out.
- Avoid making sudden radical changes in your technique unless instructed by a professional.