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Common Tennis Injuries

Tips for treating and preventing the most common tennis injuries and pain

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Updated September 06, 2013

Tennis injuries are generally defined as either cumulative (overuse) or acute (traumatic) injuries.

Overuse injuries occur over time due to stress on the muscles, joints and soft tissues without proper time for healing. They begin as a small, nagging ache or pain, and can grow into a debilitating injury if they aren't treated early.

Injuries that fall into this category include:

  • Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
  • Bursitis of the Elbow
  • Shoulder Tendinitis, Bursitis, and Impingement Syndrome
  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
  • Wrist tendinitis
  • Achilles tendinitis Iliotibial Band Syndrome
    Osteoarthritis of the Knee

    Acute or traumatic injuries occur due to a sudden force, or impact, and can be quite dramatic. The more common traumatic injuries in tennis include:

    Knee Injuries

    Ligament injuries to the knee are very common in sports that require stopping and starting or quickly changing directions. These extreme forces on the knee can result in torn ligaments. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are the most often injured, but the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL)can also be injured.

    Cruciate ligament injuries don't always cause pain, but typically cause a loud "pop." Most of these injuries are confirmed with an MRI. Arthroscopic surgery is sometimes the best way to find a partial tear.

    Torn Knee Cartilage (Meniscus Injuries)
    Torn knee cartilage is usually a torn meniscus. These small, "c" shaped pieces of cartilage act as cushions between the thigh bone (femur) and the tibia (shin bone). There is one on the outside (lateral meniscus) and one on the inside of the knee (medial meniscus). Meniscus tears are often the result of twisting, pivoting, decelerating, or a sudden impact. It cam be identified by various manual tests a physician can perform to detect torn cartilage.

    Chondromalacia
    This term refers to softening and deterioration of the underside of the kneecap. In young athletes this is typically an injury from trauma, overuse, poor alignment of the knee joint, or muscle imbalance. This leads to friction and rubbing under the kneecap the results damage to the surface of the cartilage. The sensation is a dull pain around or under the kneecap that worsens when walking down stairs or hills, climbing stair other weight bearing activity.

    Miscellaneous Tennis Pain and Injuries

    Blisters
    Blisters are fluid-filled sacks on the surface of the skin that commonly occurs on the hands, or the feet.

    Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness
    Also called "DOMS," this muscle pain, stiffness or soreness occurs 24-48 hours after particularly intense exercise or a new program.

    Plantar Fasciitis
    Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel and usually defined by pain during the first steps of the morning

    Sprains and Strains
    These are acute injuries that vary in severity but usually result in pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of the ability to move and use the joint.

    Stress Fractures
    Stress fractures in the leg are often the result of overuse or repeated impacts on a hard surface

    Many sports injuries result from overuse, lack of proper rest, lack or proper warm ups or poor conditioning. The following safety precautions are recommended to help prevent help tennis injuries:

    • Warm up thoroughly prior to play.
    • Wear the right tennis shoes with skid-resistant soles.
    • Use good technique and play by the rules.
    • Clean off courts before play - check for slippery spots or debris.
    • Have a first aide kit on hand.
    • Get adequate recovery.
    • Stay hydrated.
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