You may have heard the term “Tennis Elbow” before but never had the privilege of getting up close and personal with this common condition. In fact, Tennis Elbow is just one way to describe the tendonitis that can occur when the elbow joint and surrounding support structures become inflamed due to overuse. We could just as easily call this uncomfortable problem “Golf Elbow” or insert any number of words before the joint in question.
What’s most important isn’t what we call it, but how we manage risks and treatment, as needed. Here, we’d like to discuss some of the ways that elbow tendonitis can be avoided as we head into the warmer Spring months during which we are more likely to pick up a club, racquet, or other objects on a routine basis.
- Keep repetitive tasks to a minimum. Any activities that involve motions that repeatedly stress the elbow (such as swinging a racquet) should be offset by others that are less stressful to the area.
- Start slow. If you are new to a sport such as a tennis or golf or softball – any activity that requires the use of the forearm and elbow structures – go slow. Allow your body to become acquainted with new movements. It will thank you.
- Build muscle. The forearm muscles support the elbow joint and can be strengthened to perform better. By flexing and extending the wrists a few times a week, you can build muscle strength to support your favorite activities.
- Take a break. It isn’t necessary to wait until your body is screaming that it needs some rest to give it a break. If you routinely play a sport that stresses the elbow, shoulder, wrist or any other joint, take breaks in between rounds, matches, or games. While doing so, apply ice to the area or treat yourself to localized cryotherapy.
- Know your pain tolerance. Being able to measure pain is an important aspect of avoiding a bad injury. If you are performing any task and experience pain that you would describe as 5 or higher on your pain tolerance scale, stop what you are doing and apply ice as soon as possible. Ice can be applied twice a day, every day until the pain subsides.
When you respond quickly to signs of tendonitis, you give your body the chance to heal without intervention. If elbow, shoulder, or hand pain has persisted for several weeks, contact us. A physical examination can help us better understand your injury and how to treat it.