Tennis Elbow: You Don’t Have to Play Tennis to Get It

tennis elbow

It’s safe to say that tennis elbow is not as fun as, well, playing tennis. It is a painful condition that affects the tendons in your elbow and the weirdest thing? You don’t have to be an athlete to experience it. However, if you’re feeling discomfort in your elbow and you’re not sure what’s up, here is some tennis elbow truth.

Common Causes of Tennis Elbow

This condition, also known as lateral epicondylitis, happens when the tendons in your elbow are overused during repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. The pain that can come with this condition occurs mostly where the tendons of forearm muscles attach to the “bony bump” on the outside of the elbow.

Despite the fact that it sounds like a condition only tennis players can experience, in reality, it can happen to a variety of people. Essentially, it’s just an overuse and muscle strain injury – it really isn’t exclusive to sports. It’s caused by repetitive contraction in the forearm muscles you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist.

Some common causes, aside from playing tennis, include:

  • Painting
  • Driving screws
  • Repetitive computer mouse use
  • Using plumbing tools
  • Cutting up cooking ingredients, particularly meat

These motions could cause muscle strain if they were repeated many times a day, such as if you were a professional sous chef. No need to worry if you occasionally chop ingredients in the kitchen – it takes a lot of overuse.

Symptoms and Treating Tennis Elbow

If you have a job that requires a lot of repetitive motion, like we mentioned before, here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Pain that radiates from the outside of your elbow to your forearm and wrist
  • It’s difficult to shake hands or grip an object
  • You’re unable to turn a door knob
  • It’s not easy to hold a coffee cup

If you have any of these symptoms, it might be a good idea to visit a licensed hand therapist. They will be able to create a customized treatment plan based on your symptoms and the severity of your pain. Some non-invasive treatment solutions that hand therapy can provide include:

  • Exercises to gradually strengthen and stretch the muscles in your forearm
  • A forearm splint that could reduce stress on the injured tissue
  • Rest and ice

Tennis elbow often gets better on its own, but if your pain is severe or affecting your daily activities, it would be a good idea to seek the help of a professional in order to heal more quickly.

Famous Cases of Elbow Overload

If you’re suffering from this condition, good news! You’re not alone. This condition affects 3% of the population (and a very small percentage of those actually play tennis). Here are some famous faces who have experienced this condition:

  • Tiger Woods, professional golfer
  • Serena Williams (well, she IS a tennis player)
  • Allen Iverson, professional basketball player
  • Rajon Rondo, professional basketball player
  • John Cena, professional wrestler and movie star

Muscle strain and pain is no picnic. Luckily, if you find yourself diagnosed with tennis elbow, an experienced therapist can help find the right treatment for you and get you back to the activities you love.

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Resources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tennis-elbow/symptoms-causes/syc-20351987

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tennis-elbow/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351991

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7049-tennis-elbow-lateral-epicondylitis