Tennis Injuries

Tennis Injuries

Article by John Miller

Tennis Elbow… plus more!

Tennis is a great sport. However, tennis can cause injury to many parts of the body due to the high speed of racquet impact, repetition and use of your spine, legs and especially your dominant arm. This can predispose you to a variety of shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, ankle, hip and spine injuries.

The best-known tennis injury is tennis elbow – but, despite its name is relatively uncommon in tennis players!

Tennis is a sport that can be played on a variety of surfaces (grass, artificial grass, hard court surfaces and clay), which requires speed, power, endurance, balance and coordination. As a result, injuries can and do occur.

What’s the Incidence of Tennis Injury?

The rate of tennis injury in the general population is about five injuries per 1,000 hours of participation. Hospital admission for tennis injuries is at a rate of 33 injuries per 100,000 tennis players. Admittedly, the majority of tennis injuries do not require hospitalisation!

What are the Common Causes and Types of Tennis Injuries?

Lower limb (ankleknee, and thigh) injuries are the most common tennis injuries. They are caused by the sprinting, stopping, pivoting, jarring and pounding nature of tennis. Lower limb tennis injuries are acute (e.g. ankle sprain) or chronic (e.g. knee tendonitis).

Upper limb (elbowshoulderwrist) injuries are usually caused by the high-velocity and repetitive arm movements required in tennis. These injuries tend to be overuse in nature (e.g. tennis elbow).

Back injuries and pain are common due to the rotation required to hit groundstrokes, and the combination of rotation, extension and lateral flexion involved in the serve.

Tennis Equipment

Use a tennis racquet suitable for your style of play, experience and size. Tennis players, especially those with arm and shoulder injuries, should seek professional advice when selecting a tennis racquet and choosing string tension. Ask an experienced tennis coach.

Check and maintain the playing surface to ensure it is in good condition and free of hazards.

Use tennis balls appropriate for your playing surface. Avoid using wet or flat/dead balls.

Children & Tennis

Children should use equipment suitable to their age, size and skill level.

Encourage children and beginners to participate in modified tennis programs such as Hot Shots or similar beginner programs delivered by local clubs and coaches. These modifications introduce new players to tennis through modified equipment such as mini-nets and decompression balls. This will help new players develop good tennis skills and correct technique.

Use the Right Equipment

Seek professional advice on footwear. Most tennis shoes are more robust than running shoes due to their multidirectional requirements. The full board last shoes are common.

Foot arch correction exercises and/or orthotics may be required for some foot types.

Players with a history of joint injury should seek professional advice about taping or bracing before play. You can find a selection of tennis-related braces etc here.

Tennis Injury Risk Factors

  • Different court surfaces.
  • Condition of tennis balls used. Pros change them every seven games.
  • Type of tennis racquet.
  • Tennis shot technique.
  • Weather extremes.
  • Inappropriate footwear.
  • Poor physical conditioning.
  • The amount and level of participation.
  • Poor injury rehabilitation.

Other Tennis Tips

  • Good preparation is important.
  • Always warm-up, stretch and cool down.
  • Maintain an adequate fitness level. Undertake conditioning and training exercise specific to the physical demands of tennis.
  • Good technique and practices will help prevent injury
  • Seek instruction from a qualified coach to develop correct skills and techniques.
  • Avoid over-repetition of any one type of shot. Practise a range of tennis strokes including groundstrokes, serves, return of serves, overhead smashes and volleys.

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Arm Pain Causes

Arm pain and injuries are widespread. Arm pain can occur as a result of either sudden, traumatic or repetitive overuse. The causes can be related to sports injuries, work injuries or simply everyday arm use.

Arm pain can be a local injury, musculoskeletal injury or could even be referred from nerves in your neck (cervical radiculopathy). This can result in neck-arm pain.

Causes of Arm Pain by Region

Causes of Arm Pain by Structure

Neck-Related Arm Pain

Shoulder-Related Arm Pain

Elbow-Related Arm Pain

Wrist-Related Arm Pain

Hand-Related Arm Pain

Muscle-Related Arm Pain

Other Sources of Arm Pain

Common Causes of Arm Pain

The most common sources of arm pain include shoulder painwrist pain and elbow pain.

Referred Arm Pain

As mentioned earlier, arm pain can be referred to from another source. Cervical radiculopathy is a common source of referred arm pain. Cervical radiculopathy will not respond to treatment where you feel the arm pain. However, it will respond positively to treatment at the source of the injury (e.g. your neck joints).

Professional assessment from a health practitioner skilled in diagnosing both spinal-origin and local-origin (muscle and joint) injuries (e.g. your physiotherapist) is recommended to ensure an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment directed at the arm pain source.

Arm Pain has Diverse Causes.

The causes of your arm pain can be extensive and varied. Due to this diversity, your arm pain should be assessed by a suitably qualified health practitioner to attain an accurate diagnosis, treatment plan and implementation specific to your arm pain.

What Arm Pain is Associated with a Heart Attack?

Left-arm pain can be an early sign of a life-threatening cardiac issue. Based on this, a professional medical assessment that involves an accurate history, symptom analysis, physical examination and diagnostic tests to exclude a potential heart attack is important to exclude this potentially life-threatening source of arm pain.

For more information, please consult with your health practitioner, call an ambulance on 000, or visit a hospital emergency department to put your mind at ease.

Good News. Most Arm Pain is NOT Life-Threatening.

Luckily, life-threatening arm pain is far less likely than a local musculoskeletal injury. Arm pain caused by a localised arm muscle, tendon or joint injury should be assessed and confirmed by your health practitioner before commencing treatment.

Arm Pain Prognosis

The good news is that arm pain, and injury will normally respond very favourably to medical or physiotherapy intervention when early professional assessment and treatment is sought. Please do not delay in consulting your healthcare practitioner if you experience arm pain.

Common Arm Pain Treatments

With accurate assessment and early treatment, most arm injuries respond extremely quickly to physiotherapy or medical care, allowing you to resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living quickly.

Please ask your physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice.