Don’t Let Tennis Elbow Ruin Your Summer Playing Season: Orthopaedic Specialist Dr. Yariv Maghen Offers Tips for Preventing and Treating Tennis Elbow
According to Dr. Yariv Maghen with Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group, unlike many sports-related medical conditions, tennis elbow isn’t usually caused by a specific injury. Tennis elbow is typically caused by overuse.
Carmel, NY (PRWEB) July 11, 2013
Every summer, seasoned athletes and weekend warriors hit the courts, but some of them end up sidelined due to tennis elbow. Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a common condition that occurs when the tendons on the outside of the elbow become inflamed and cause pain. “Unlike many sports-related medical conditions, tennis elbow isn’t usually caused by a specific injury,” says Dr. Yariv Maghen, an orthopaedic surgeon with Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group in New York. “And it’s not just world-class athletes who are prone to tennis elbow. It can happen to players of all levels.”
Understanding Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is typically caused by overuse from playing tennis and other racquet sports; other activities can lead to the condition as well. In fact, anyone who uses their forearm to do repetitive movements can be susceptible. For example, painters, plumbers, carpenters, chefs and butchers are more likely to develop tennis elbow than people in other occupations, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include pain or burning on the outer part of the elbow and weak grip strength, according to Dr. Maghen.
Treating Tennis Elbow
There are many potential treatments for tennis elbow, including rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Advil, wearing a brace and surgery (for those whose don’t respond to other treatments).
Two of the most common approaches, steroid injections and physical therapy were found to be less effective than once thought at treating tennis elbow. In a February 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that among patients with chronic tennis elbow in one arm, a single corticosteroid injection didn’t significantly improve the condition after one year, nor did combining the treatment with two months of physical therapy (although the therapy did provide short-term relief from pain).
Previous studies have found that simple strength training exercises may help treat tennis elbow – a remedy that can also help prevent the condition.
Tips for Preventing Tennis Elbow
“Regardless of their level of skill, all tennis players can benefit from learning some basic preventive techniques,” says Dr. Maghen.
Although tennis elbow doesn’t usually strike until adulthood, prevention can start in the early years. A January 2013 study found that if children spend less time playing organized sports and more time in unorganized “free play,” it could help prevent tennis elbow and other sports injuries later in life. The researchers followed nearly 900 student athletes, including 124 tennis players who had come in for a physical or were being treated for sports injuries two clinics in Chicago. Researchers found that these athletes spent more than five times as much time playing tennis in organized youth sports programs as they did engaging in unstructured play and recreation.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends these tips to prevent tennis elbow and other injuries while playing racquet sports:
- Warm up. Make sure you do strengthening and stretching exercises specifically for tennis players because “cold” muscles are more prone to injury.
- Make sure your grip is correct, and use equipment appropriate for your skill level and body type and size, which will help you maintain a neutral wrist position during play.
- Use a two-handed backhand stroke, which can greatly reduce the stress on the elbow.
- Start tennis or any new sport slowly and gradually increase intensity.
Many people put on their tennis whites and begin playing without taking these precautions, but it’s a mistake, especially if they are older, says Dr. Maghen. “Tennis players need to stretch and strengthen their arm muscles to keep the muscles flexible and prevent inflammation,” he says. “And you need to be in good overall physical condition before you pick up the game to best protect against injury.”
Somers Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Group, founded in 1988, is one of the most comprehensive and specialized practices in the region. http://www.somersortho.com
Bio: Dr. Yariv Maghen is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in upper extremity injury and treatment.
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