We understand the value of working hard and playing hard, and we know you do too. Day in and day out, you’re out there getting stuff done, which is great! We want you to build that shed, hit home runs and score those touchdowns. But make sure you don’t forget, even if your body is a well-oiled machine, machines can still wear down over time, especially when doing repetitive motions. When it comes to sports medicine, there is such a thing as playing too hard. When a joint like your Elbow is subjected to the same movements over and over again without rest, problems can start to develop.
Tennis Elbow, like the name implies: Tennis players and other athletes who use racquets are prone to this type of injury due to the repetitive swinging motions involved with the sport. Also known as Lateral Epicondylitis, because it refers to the swelling and irritation around the outside of the epicondyle, the round area of the bone where your ligaments and tendons connect. It usually starts as light tenderness on the outside of the elbow, but if left untreated, the tendons can continue deteriorating until the tenderness turns into burning pain and loss of grip strength.
Lateral Epicondylitis also has a sister ailment, Medial Epicondylitis or Golfers Elbow, affecting the inside of the elbow rather than the outside. These ailments often go undiagnosed because they aren’t always the result of one big injury or accident, they happen gradually as the forearm muscles pull against your joints again and again. You might not know you’re suffering from Elbow overuse until the pain becomes too great to continue activity.
You may think that Tennis Elbow or Golfers Elbow is for older athletes, but children are actually susceptible to the same kind of joint stress. Little Leaguers Elbow can be a serious problem for young children who play sports that involve repetitive throwing motions. In younger athletes, the pulling of the tendons can disrupt growth and development of their young bones by taking small fragments with them when they tear.
There are surgical methods for fixing Epicondylitis but rest assured, if caught in time, most Elbow overuse injuries can be treated with a series of injections combined with physical therapy, no surgery required.
It should be said that even though most of these injuries are named after sports and are most commonly found in athletes, anyone performing repetitive tasks can be at risk of Elbow overuse injuries. Any kind of manual labor, even using hand tools on the weekends can result in Elbow overuse injuries, so don’t be afraid to talk to one of our Elbow Specialists about your pain even if you’re not an all-star pro athlete.
Remember, we all need a little rest and relaxation every now and then. Give your arm a break and your joints will love you for it, and if you hear the tennis court calling you, just make sure to stretch first!