Elbow and Wrist Injuries in Tennis
Tennis is a popular sports played and enjoyed by millions of people across the globe.
This sport requires precision in balance and excellent eye-arm coordination during the game. Athletes must be in tip top shape before each event and must have spent adequate time stretching and warming up to prevent untoward injuries during the sporting event.
Despite meticulous care and precaution accidents do happen in approximately 5 athletes every 1000 hours of tennis playing time. This article will introduce you to the more common injuries of the arm and hand incurred in tennis.
This will also guide you on how to identify them and how should they be treated. The following are the most common injuries of the lower arm for tennis players:
This condition is also referred to as lateral humeral epicondylitis. Although the incidence of tennis elbow relative to playing time is as low as 5-8%, almost half of all professional tennis players had succumb to this in at least one point in their entire tennis career. Tennis elbow is caused by over usage of the forearm muscle especially during repetitive backhand strokes.
Faulty backhand technique predisposes the player to this injury. Manifestations of the disease include pain on the elbow (outer elbow) during gripping of the racquet or any hard instrument. Pain may be relieved by rest, warm compress, elevation of extremity and the taking of oral analgesics. Tennis abstinence of more than 6 weeks may be required for healing. Physiotherapy treatment for this condition is vital to hasten the healing process ensure an optimal outcome and reduce the likelihood of injury recurrence.
Treatment may comprise soft tissue massage, stretching, ultrasounds, shockwaves, corticoid injection…
However, persistent pain and discomfort for more than 6 to 12 months will require surgical intervention for the removal of the damaged muscles and tendons.
Post–injury tennis playing may require the player to use a racquet with smaller the gripping size. Backhand stroke should imperatively done with both hands to reduce the stress to the tendons and muscles of the elbow. Elbow support braces may be required for the stability of the joint.
Wrist strains are closely associated with the “laid back” gripping position that involves the rotation of the palm and quick wrist actions to achieve a top spin volley.
The overstretching of the muscles and tendons of the wrist will cause the strain and develop small tears in the muscle and tendon surface of the wrist. This injury will cause swelling of the wrist with persistent pain. Adequate rest for the wrist by using splints and elastic wrist support may immobilize the affected joint. Pain relievers and warm compress may reduce the pain of the wrist. Chronic pain of the joint may merit surgical evaluation by exploration and repair of the wrist region. $
Wrist strain may be prevented by using the neutral “L” position of the racquet relative to the elbow or the handshake grip.
This refers to a broken bone in any of the given carpal bone of the hand. This happens during accidental falls where the player supports his whole weight with the outstretched arm and transferring the force of the impact to the carpal bones causing the fracture. Fractures of the wrist will initially present as swelling of the hand and wrist with pain on mobility.
Patients are usually given acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve the pain. Splints and casts are indicated to afford temporary immobility of the hand. Surgical procedures known as closed and open reduction of the carpal bones may be opted by the surgeon to ensure the proper alignment of bones after healing. Misalignment of the carpal bone after healing may hamper one’s ability to properly grasp a pen or to button one’s shirt.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This refers to the bothersome numbness of the hand with pain and burning sensation at the lower edge of the palm. This syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the narrow carpal tunnel formed by the carpal bones and fibrous retinaculum of the hand.
Tennis players may suffer from this syndrome due to the chronic hand gripping of the racquet caused by excessive and long hours of playing. The chronic inflammation of wrist strains may also constrict the carpal tunnel and cause the syndrome. Splinting of the hand may offer temporary relief but persistent symptoms with signs of muscle atrophy of the palms may require surgical treatment. Surgical treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome requires the surgical release of the retinaculum to relieve the median nerve of the pressure.