Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

What Is Tennis Elbow? And Other Frequently Asked Questions By Tennis Players

by Stephen Silva

If you're a tennis player, you may at one time or another come to be affected by a condition known as "tennis elbow." Understanding what tennis elbow is and how you can treat it can help you stay in the game without pain during this spring's tennis season.

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is a term commonly used to describe injury that arises from overuse of the forearm. Tennis elbow is a particular problem for tennis players, although many other people can be affected by the same condition. In fact, sometimes tennis elbow is called "painter's elbow," because it's also a common problem for professional painters, and it can also be called "golfer's elbow." All of these terms are different names for the same condition.

What causes tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is caused by injury of the muscles and tendons in the area where they attach to the elbow. Typically this injury occurs because of the repetitive arm motions that you make when you swing your tennis racket.

What are some of the signs of tennis elbow?

If you have tennis elbow, you'll feel the following symptoms:

  • Pain around the outside of the elbow. This pain may come on gradually and grow stronger, or may come on strong relatively suddenly.
  • The pain more commonly occurs when using the wrist with tasks that place strong force on the arm. An example of this is the force placed on your arm by twisting a door handle and opening a door.

What can you do to treat tennis elbow?

The best way to treat tennis elbow is to catch it when it's just beginning. As soon as the pain begins, see a sports injury physical therapy practitioner. He or she can make treatment recommendations that will help you recover, including:

  • Rest. Rest is one of the best medicines for people who catch their tennis elbow very early. Stopping tennis for a period of time will allow the injury to heal itself without further help.
  • Applying ice to the area. Often the area will become inflamed at the onset of tennis elbow. As soon as you are diagnosed, your sports injury PT will have you apply ice to the injury. This reduces inflammation and helps you recover more quickly.
  • Special exercises. If your case of tennis elbow is more advanced, or if it doesn't respond to ice and rest, then your physical therapist will likely recommend that you perform special exercises designed to rehabilitate your arm.

For more information about tennis elbow and how it can be treated, talk to your sports injury physical therapy specialist. He or she will help you recover and get back to playing tennis this spring.