Wrist Pain With Tennis
By Rachel Keene LAT/ATC
Wrist Pain with Tennis
Wrist pain can be a common occurrence in tennis players, both amateur and professional. The forearm comprises two major muscle groups, the wrist extensors, and the wrist flexors; they attach to the bones by tendons. Inflammation of these tendons leads to tendonitis, which causes wrist pain. Wrist pain typically occurs on either the radial (thumb) side or ulnar (pinky) side.
What Causes Wrist Pain While Playing Tennis?
The primary factors contributing to wrist pain while playing tennis include:
- Inflammation or swelling
- Improper equipment or technique
- Excessive motion during the stroke.
Wrist pain can occur when the player’s racket’s grip size is incorrect, or the racket strings are fastened too tight. These two factors increase the force applied to the body. In addition to improper equipment, excessive motion can also play a role in wrist pain while playing tennis. Tennis players may over supinate (rotate) their hand during a double-handed backstroke, which places the wrist joint in extreme ulnar deviation and extension, leading to pain over time.
How Do I Treat Tennis Wrist Pain?
There are many options when treating tennis wrist pain, ranging from conservative options to surgical. Conservative measures include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Wrist splint or cast
- Forearm stretches and strengthening
If conservative measures are ineffective, or if it is a more severe injury, treatment options may include:
- Anti-inflammatory injections such as cortisone
In more mild cases, wrist pain can often be treated with conservative measures. In addition to these measures having a professional evaluate a player’s racket to check for proper grip size and string tightness may also be necessary. If the improper technique is the cause of wrist pain, either being evaluated by a professional or videotaping the player’s swing may improve technique and decrease the risk of injury. In more severe cases, orthopedic surgery may be required to repair ligaments/tendons or repair other tissue damage.
Physical Therapy can be useful after surgery, or in mild cases, physical therapy can be used to increase strength and range of motion. After an injury, a gradual return to play is critical to prevent re-injury and perform a warm-up and cool-down with every game or training session.
How Do You Prevent Wrist Pain When Playing Tennis?
Although the injury is common while playing tennis, there are several ways to help minimize injury risk. A few examples of theses include:
- Selecting equipment while taking into account the player’s age, size, and level of play
- Using proper technique and grip.
- If you are unable to perform a double-handed backhand, the player may opt for a single-handed backhand.
- Increasing strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders. If possible, strengthening and range of motion exercises should be done daily or at least three times a week.
What Do I Do If I Still Have Wrist Pain When You Play?
The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute offers specific evaluations and treatment plans for tennis players. We understand how much tennis can be a part of your life, and we want to get you back on the court. With the top hand and wrist experts and Tennis-specific Rehab programs, JOI has the tools to get you back in the game.
To schedule an appointment with one of our Wrist and Hand Experts, or to schedule a Tennis Evaluation, call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.