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Tennis injuries

The game of tennis is one that requires endurance, flexibility and good overall fitness. Many people become injured while playing tennis either from a sudden impact or from overuse of muscles and joints. Beginners are very likely to suffer injury as are those who take up tennis for the first time later in life. Some common overuse injuries are:

Tennis elbow

This is a common repetitive injury that leads to wrist pain; however it may also be caused by sudden impact. Symptoms are pain wrist pain which may radiate along the back of the forearm. It is often brought on by an incorrect backhand technique or by using an inappropriate racquet. Physiotherapists can advise you on correct backhand technique and recommend which type of racquet is best for you. Lifting heavy objects repeatedly may also cause this pain. The RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method is helpful in relieving pain and inflammation. Sometimes a tennis elbow band is used to protect the forearm muscles and provides pain relief. Physiotherapy is recommended for flexibility and strengthening so that you can return to playing tennis sooner.

Rotator cuff injury

This is a tennis injury that results from repeated overhead movements, mainly with incorrect serving technique. This causes inflammation in the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles, leading to shoulder pain and weakness with overhead movements or pain at night, especially when lying on the affected shoulder. Rest and icing are the first forms of treatment followed by physiotherapy exercises for strengthening and stabilising the shoulder. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Wrist pain

Inflammation of the tendons of the thumb may occur when someone starts playing tennis for the first time but it can also be an overuse injury from incorrect racquet hold with forehand shots. Wrist pain is felt in the front of the wrist near the thumb and if you make a fist with the thumb inside, there would most likely be pain. Rest and icing should be employed to allow the inflammation to heal as well as immobilising the thumb in a splint. Stretching and strengthening exercises will be helpful to allow you to return to tennis sooner.

Sprained wrist

A sprained wrist may occur from a fall on an outstretched hand. This causes stretching or tears to the ligaments of the wrist. Pain, tenderness and swelling of the wrist will be seen. If you experience these symptoms you should rest from the activity and apply ice and a compression bandage. Sometimes a splint is needed to promote recovery from the injury. With all wrist sprains, you should contact your physiotherapist and commence a rehabilitation programme.

Ankle sprains

During a game, a tennis player is required to stop, sprint and make sudden changes in direction. This can result in stretching or tearing of the ligaments of the ankle leading to ankle sprain. Sometimes a loud "snap" or "pop" may be heard at the time of injury, followed by pain, swelling and tenderness over the site as well as difficulty weight bearing on the affected side. Applying the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) treatment should be your first course of action. Rest is needed to take the strain off the ankle and ice helps to relieve pain and inflammation. Compression of the ankle with a bandage and elevation of the foot while sitting and lying helps to reduce swelling. Sometimes an ankle brace is worn to give extra support when you resume playing tennis. Physiotherapy rehabilitation will help you regain flexibility and strength and is crucial for your return to tennis without the risk of re-injury.

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries

ACL injuries are quite common among tennis players and can occur with an awkward land from a jump, from decelerating from a run too abruptly or from a sudden change in direction. The ACL is one of the two major ligaments that help to stabilise the knee. When this is injured, knee stability is compromised, and knee pain, swelling and difficulty walking result. The first thing to do is use the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method, then seek the advice of an orthopaedic surgeon. Quite often with ACL tears, surgical repair is necessary first, followed by physiotherapy for an intense strengthening rehabilitation programme.

For these or any other injuries you may have sustained playing tennis, see us first. We can help.


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