Understanding & Preventing Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow PDFLateral epicondylitis, or Tennis Elbow, is marked by pain over the bone on the outside of the elbow. The piece of bone that can be felt on the outside of the elbow is called the lateral epicondyle. When the tendons attached to this bone are overused, they can deteriorate and become irritated and painful. This damages the forearm extensor muscles, which are active when something is gripped, such as a tennis racquet. However, the condition is not restricted to tennis players. In fact, only a fraction of people who suffer from Tennis Elbow actually play tennis.

So what causes Tennis Elbow? Aside from playing tennis, some of the conditions or activities that can cause tennis elbow include:

  • Improper technique of hitting tennis ball
  • Improper size of tennis racquet or tension of racquet strings
  • Use of a racquet that is too heavy
  • Repetitive arm motions in activities such as golf, tennis, raking, pitching, rowing, painting and using a hammer or screwdriver
  • Improper golf swing technique
  • Insufficient stretching
  • Advancing age
  • Work that requires repetitive gripping

When it comes to Tennis Elbow preventive measures, there are a few steps you can take to avoid injury.

  • Appropriately warm up and stretch before practicing or competing in any sport.
  • Ensure proper equipment (tennis racquet, golf club, etc.) fit
  • Use proper technique when swinging the racquet. Consult with a coach or specialist if you need guidance on proper technique.
  • Maintain appropriate conditioning, including:
    • Wrist and forearm flexibility
    • Cardiovascular fitness
    • Muscle strength and endurance
  • Wear a tennis elbow (counterforce) brace

If you suspect you have Tennis Elbow, treatment would be provided by a hand and upper extremity orthopedist, or sports medicine specialist, who may recommend treatments ranging from a rest/heat/ice regimen, to eccentric strengthening exercises, or the prescription of anti-inflammatory medications or injections. In extreme cases, your physician may recommend outpatient surgery for Tennis Elbow.

For more information, you can download our Tennis Elbow PDF, which includes details on Tennis Elbow prevention, risks, treatment options and more.

About Dr. Claudius Jarrett
Claudius Jarrett, MDClaudius Jarrett, MD is an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. He started practicing at Emory after completing an orthopedic hand, microsurgery, and upper extremity fellowship at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After finishing medical school at Northwestern University, he completed his orthopaedic residency here at the Emory University Hospitals. His clinical practice and research interests focus on addressing hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder injuries.

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