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Tennis Elbow: Not Just A Player's Problem

Tennis elbow is an injury commonly suffered by tennis players, but even if you do not play tennis you may suffer from the injury due to particular work or leisure activities requiring repetitive arm motions. The injury, properly named lateral epicondylitis, got its nickname because many tennis players suffer from the injury due to incorrect backhand stroke techniques or simply overdoing it. Repeated use of one elbow at work or at play, improper tennis backhand strokes and golf swings, and using the wrist rather than the whole arm for reaching or gripping are all motions that commonly lead to lateral epicondylitis.

If your daily work routine involves a particular motion that is repeated throughout the day, such as reaching, gripping, pushing or pulling with the hands and arms, you may be at risk of developing lateral epicondylitis. These repetitive motions may lead to inflammation of the tissues surrounding the elbow, weakening of muscles in the forearm, and even tearing of the muscle fibers around the elbow and forearm.

Symptoms of tennis elbow include painful and sore forearm muscles, especially those on the outside of the elbow, and a loss of strength in the hand and arm. Once the inflammation has begun, it is very easy to aggravate the condition with many daily activities. Picking up a coffee cup or a gallon of milk can produce severe pain. The inflammation and strain to the muscle cause the muscles to shorten or tighten . As the condition worsens, the muscles start to weaken. A loss of grip strength may be noted and you may find it difficult to perform simple tasks such as grasping a writing pen.

If you are suffering from tennis elbow, follow the steps listed below to ease the pain and treat the injury;
  • Rest the affected hand and arm
  • Avoid painful motions (maybe switch hands and arms periodically)
  • Apply ice to the area to decrease swelling and pain
  • Wear a brace just below the elbow to support the muscles in the forearm and decrease stress to the area
If the pain persists for an extended period of time, you may need to visit your physician because medical treatment may be required. Medical treatment may include anti-inflammatory medications and possibly a cortisone injection to reduce the swelling and pain, and for more serious cases, physical therapy may be required to decrease the swelling and inflammation and then gradually increase strength and flexibility. Physical therapy focuses on treatments such as ultrasound, iontophoresis (which is a non-invasive means of introducing anti-inflammatory medication into the area), ice to the area, elbow strap or forearm splint, and various exercises for the hand and arm to build up strength.

Tennis elbow, like most other injuries, can be prevented. Pay close attention to your daily activities.

Do you repeat the same motions with your hands or arms numerous times during the day? If so, you may need to make some changes in your daily routine to avoid injury. Here are a few suggestions: switch hands during an activity so both arms share the work; hold your hands with the palm almost turned sideways rather than with the palm down to prevent stress and fatigue to the area; keep your wrists straight and elbows close to your side when performing repetitive tasks. If you are a tennis player, take time to stretch the muscles before playing and purchase a tennis racquet that properly fits your hand, strength and tennis-playing ability. We must take special care of our hands and arms to avoid injury so we can continue performing activities for work and for play.

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Therapy Services Associates
Hours: Monday - Friday :: 8am - 5pm
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Two Offices
Google+ Link Hobbs
2700 N Grimes
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-4129
FAX (575) 392-3835

Google+ Link Lovington
Located inside Nor Lea Hospital
1600 N Main
Lovington, NM 88260
(575) 396-5227
FAX (575) 396-7193


We serve Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, as well as Yoakum and Gaines Counties in West Texas.