“How to beat aches and pains if you play tennis”

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Tennis is a great recreational sport but i can be the source of many aches and pains. For example, neck pain can be due to strain or sprain. Strain occurs when ligaments, tendons, or muscles get stretched.

This causes pain, aching and can occur after a long day of being out on the court. if you use a kick serve for your second serve, you will extend your head which can lead to severe neck strain. Trying to get a better look at the blonde in the short tennis skirt two courts down can also lead to neck strain.

Sprain occurs when the muscles or ligaments actually tear. Blood and inflammatory chemicals (called cytokines) pour into the area and swelling, pain, and severe spasm result. This can occur if you jerk your head too quickly when you’re at the net… or you don’t see the right cross from your wife.

For both strain and sprain, use ice packs. Keep a towel between the ice pack and your skin to protect your skin from injury. Over the counter anti-inflammatory agents can help.

Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are always a good idea both before and after you play tennis.

Low back pain can occur. Hard court tennis is a killer for the low back. And bending down to pick up balls is tough on your back too. If you have a big/heavy gear bag, you need to be careful. Lift with your legs. Keep your back straight. Keep your head up. If necessary, go down on one knee to lift. Keep the object you’re lifting close to your body. Always test the object before you lift it to make sure you can lift it.

Before you go out, work on stretching and strengthening. If you are unfortunate enough to injure your back, go at complete bed rest for at least a day with an ice pack. Gentle stretching exercises may help. See a physical therapist or a chiropractor. If you don’t get better soon, see your physician.

Shoulder problems are also common with tennis. Anytime you lift, haul your gear bag, you are setting yourself up for shoulder problems. Serving is where most tennis players injure their shoulders. Make sure you do shoulder stretching before and after you play. If you develop shoulder pain, apply ice and use OTC anti-inflammatory agents.

Elbow pain results from any repetitive activity. The most common is lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). This is a form of tendonitis and affects the outside part of the elbow. If you know you’re going to be doing repetitive motion with the arms, make sure you stretch before and after. The back hand stroke, if you use a one-handed backhand, is the most common stroke that leads to “tennis elbow.” Ice your elbow down afterwards. If the elbow continues to bother you, you need to see your rheumatologist or orthopedist. The best form of treatment for tendon issues is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This is a concentrate of your own blood that contains many platelets. Platelets are cells that contain multiple growth and healing factors. These actually make new tendon tissue. PRP injections are much better than cortisone injections. Cortisone weakens tendons.

Wrist and hand problems can also occur any time you are using them for repetitive activity. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a particularly common problem. This occurs when the median nerve into the hand is pinched. Symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling can result. Treatment involves splinting, physical therapy, and injection with steroids. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Stretch (is this a recurrent theme or what?) before and after you play. Use ice on your hands and wrists afterwards.

Tendonitis can be a problem in the hands. Trigger finger… a sticking of the fingers can occur commonly. Sometimes the finger won’t bend… and other times it’ll bend but won’t straighten! Trigger finger is treated with injection.

Hip pain can occur when you play hard and make quick cuts on the court. Stretching before and after is a good idea. Playing on soft courts is also helpful.

Knee pain can result also if you either bang your knee or spend too much time playing hard court tennis. And anterior cruciate ligament injuries are more common than you would think.. Be careful out there. Contusions (a type of strain) and bursitis can also be a consequence. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful.

Foot and ankle syndromes are a typical affliction of tennis players. Pain is often caused by poor fitting shoes. And that goes for socks as well. Make sure you get tennis socks. These are padded in areas that are subjected to the most pressure and friction in the feet. A miserable day out on the courts is the consequence otherwise. In addition to blisters, you can get tendonitis, bursitis, and a lousy attitude. If you have flat feet or high arches, you may want to use orthotics… these give your feet proper support.Ankle problems can occur frequently. Stretch before you play. In particular stretch your Achilles tendons because Achilles injuries are serious! if you already have a history of ankle problems you may want to consider wearing any of the new excellent athletic braces out there.

Key points: Tennis is not for sissies. Make sure you stretch and take care of those joints!

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