Tennis Elbow – FAQ
By Michelle Duclos ATC/Sports Medicine Director and JOI Staff
Tennis Elbow FAQ
What is Lateral Epicondylitis?
Your diagnosis from your physician is in layman’s terms called Tennis Elbow. It is a painful inflammation that affects the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. The place that the tendons of the forearm muscles attach is called the lateral epicondyle, hence the name lateral epicondylitis
I do not play tennis but I think I have tennis elbow. What gives?
While the most common cause of tennis elbow is overuse with racquet sports, any type of repetitive wrist use that overloads the lateral forearm muscles can cause this condition. Examples are painting, excessive use of a computer mouse, trimming bushes/yardwork, and many types of work environments where grip or handle use is required.
What are the signs of Tennis Elbow?
Signs of tennis elbow can develop slowly over time. First is usually pain at the outside of elbow along with tightness and pain with the forearm muscles with wrist movements or gripping activity. Next, every day activities such as shaking hands, turning a doorknob or picking up objects with the palm down become almost impossible without pain. By this time you are most likely very limited with your grip or sport activity. It is important to recognize these signs because the earlier you stop the inflammation the quicker your recovery.
Who is more likely to get tennis elbow?
Although tennis elbow can occur at any age, it mostly affects people aged 35-50. It affects both men and women equally.
My physician recommended a shot for my tennis elbow but I really do not like needles. Are there any other treatments for the pain and inflammation?
JOI Rehabilitation has many techniques to assist with your recovery. Our most recent state of the art addition is medical lasers. These lasers have been shown to be very effective with eliminating the pain and inflammation of tennis elbow in a very short period of time. Plus there is absolutely no pain with the treatment.
How long will it take me to return to tennis?
The first important part of your treatment is to get rid of the inflammation. After that, you must have pain free active range of motion and strength/grip activity. Then the process of getting back to Tennis can begin. JOI has a sports medicine center that is designed to safely and effectively take any type of athlete from any sport, both professional and recreational, back to their sport.
Is there a brace I can use to help with my Tennis Elbow?
There are both strap-like braces and complete elbow braces depending on your specific circumstances. The main function of the brace is to reduce the force at the lateral elbow from the forearm muscle contacting so it can heal. These also can be used in conjunction with your sport or work activity.
Does my type of racket or style of play affect my chances of getting tennis elbow?
Yes it does. The ergonomics of the racket grip, the tension of the strings and the size of the racket affect the amount of force at the lateral elbow. Additionally, the mechanics of your tennis swing can play a factor. All tennis strokes have a fundamental mechanical structure, meaning you should always swing a certain way. JOI Sports Medicine Center can educate you regarding the correct equipment selection along with swing mechanics.
Is there one particular movement with tennis that makes you more susceptible to this condition?
Yes, the one-handed backhand shot places the most stress on the lateral forearm muscles.
What are some simple tips to help deal with tennis elbow at home?
First of all ice frequently. Next, try not to extend your arm with lifting activity/ADL. Also try to avoid increased grip activity. An example would be to lift a plate from under with palm flat vs. gripping on the plate edge.
My elbow already really hurts. Will participating in therapy will make it worse?
Please rest at ease our first goal with treatment will be to help calm down the pain and inflammation. We have many treatment options to accomplish this goal. “At the JOI Sport Center, we have programs to treat tennis elbow and work with tennis players to return them back to the sport that they love.”, states Dr. Michael Yorio, the Jacksonville Jaguars Internal Medicine Physician and Internal Medicine/Sports Medicine Physician at the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute in Jacksonville, Florida.
For an appointment, call JOI-2000.