Does Tennis Elbow occur from playing tennis?
A fun fact about tennis elbow is that it rarely occurs due to playing tennis, in fact only about 5% of people will develop tennis elbow from tennis! Tennis elbow can be described as a pain on the outside of the elbow with increased activity and movement. The pain can also refer down as far as the wrist and hand. So why does tennis occur if not from tennis? Tennis elbow can be seen as an overuse injury in which it can occur from increased job demands involving the wrist, hand, and elbow, or with manual labor.
What is happening that causes pain?
As tennis elbow is more of an overuse injury there are a number of factors that could be contributing to the pain. Due to the repetitive nature of job, hobbies, and daily life, the repetitive movements can cause inflammation around the elbow joint. Inflammation is the body’s way of trying to protect itself which can be painful to move the affected area. Furthermore, microscopic tearing and degenerative changes within the tendon can be occurring. This is caused by the tendon tissue not being able to handle the load of activity and can slowly weaken which in turn causes the sensation of pain in the area with movement and activity.
How long can it last?
Tennis elbow is related to load management and activity which means it can vary in duration. The pain being experienced can change in intensity and duration. You may find that pain is immediate with certain activities and will resolve afterwards, or you may find it occurs a few hours after activity. With most overuse type injuries like this we will typically see recovery times around 3 months. Discussing treatment options and activity modifications with a physiotherapist can help speed up the recovery as well as give you the tools to help manage the future risk of reoccurrence.