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Tennis Elbow — It Goes Far Beyond the Court

While complaining of tennis elbow may make you sound athletic, there are numerous ways to develop this painful condition. In fact, only 5% of cases of tennis elbow actually come from playing tennis.

Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury of the tendons that attach your forearm to your elbow. It’s caused by repetitive motion, which can be a result of sports or your profession.

Dr. Bryan King, MD, PhD, the fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Northport, Alabama, wants you to know more about tennis elbow, including how to treat it.

Tennis elbow symptoms

When you overuse your elbow, you can develop microtears and inflammation in your tendon. Over time, these microtears and inflammation put stress on your elbow, which can cause long-term pain and weakness. 

The pain is focused on the area where your forearm meets your elbow. Other tennis elbow symptoms include pain that radiates from your elbow down your arm when you grasp something, and also difficulty grasping an object. 

Who gets tennis elbow?

Anyone can get tennis elbow, even people who have never played tennis, but it’s more common for people 30-50 years old. Obviously, people who play tennis can develop this condition, but also people who play other racquet sports. Backhands can be especially stressful on your elbow. 

Those who perform repetitive tasks with their wrists and elbows are also at risk of developing tennis elbow. Some of these professions and hobbies include:

Tennis elbow treatment

If you have tennis elbow, the first line of treatment is rest and activity modifications for a couple of weeks. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as Advil® and Aleve® can help with pain and inflammation. Icing the area a couple of times a day can also help.

Once the pain and inflammation have subsided, physical therapy exercises can strengthen the area around your elbow to help prevent reinjury. You can also get expert advice on how to modify your tennis technique to help minimize your risk of developing tennis elbow or other types of injury. 

If resting and other noninvasive methods don’t relieve the pain, the next step would be a cortisone injection to lessen the pain and swelling. If your pain doesn't respond to any of these treatments in addition to rest after six months, you may want to consider surgery. 

Dr. King uses the most advanced surgical tools and techniques available and designs your surgical plan specific to your needs. 

If you’re experiencing pain in your elbow that won’t go away, call our Northport, Alabama, office at 205-354-2679, or send a message to Dr. King and our team at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute here our website for a sports medicine consultation.

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