What's wrong with my elbow? What should I do?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by AmazingJason, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. AmazingJason

    AmazingJason New User

    Aug 21, 2009
    Fall 2011: I started playing tennis with a friend, who also was a complete beginner. Neither of us took lessons and have never taken any ever. We relied on Youtube and free online instruction. I used a 15+ year-old Wilson racquet my cousin lent me. It was on the heavier side and I continued to use the 15+ year-old strings. I played approximately 2-3x/month - excluding winter, since I'm in NYC - up until Summer 2012. Primarily what we did was "hit around" and I used a 2.0 level 1HBH to push/semi-slice the ball back. I experienced no elbow trouble, but did develop rotator cuff soreness/pain. I switched to a SW grip from Eastern, focused on not arming the ball, and modified some of my weight training exercises (I weight-train 1-2x/week with medium heavy weights) and it eventually disappeared.

    Summer 2012 - Spring 2013: The Wilson racquet's strings finally broke in July. I did a lot of research on racquets and settled on a Head Microgel Radical Midplus, which had an arm-friendly reputation. I played it stock with the Head Sonic Pro 16 poly strings it came with at 57 tension. I did so at a rate of 3-4x/month and improved my technique to between 2.5 and 3.0. No sign of arm trouble whatsoever.

    Spring - Summer 2013: I continued to play, but at a slightly increased rate of 4-5x/month. I started to feel shocks of pain to my elbow joint whenever I hit the ball with my racquet - the severity of which varied from a 3 to 7. No pain whenever not hitting, nothing the days in between playing. My friend told me to re-string because I had been using the stock poly strings for close to a year. I re-strung with PSGD at 54 tension, but it didn't help that much. I continued to play because I didn't experience any post-playing pain, and some days were better than others - there were some days I felt no to little shocks at all. Eventually though, it got to the point where I could only use a 2-handed forehand/backhand to play.

    Current: I re-strung with Weiss Cannon Explosiv at 60, added a Babolat RVS dampener and leaded it up a little at 3&9/handle to make it more stable. I played with it once - this past Wednesday and it felt fine with no elbow shocks, but for the 1st time, I experienced tenderness with rare moments of dull ache/pain at the tennis elbow area in the days afterwards.

    Perhaps not a full-blown or even a mild case, but I believe that I have the stirrings of tennis elbow. I function like normal 98% of the time with no pain, but I have that aforementioned tenderness whenever I do something like straighten out and lock my elbow. I would like some advice on what I should do next. One thing I've definitely decided is to take a break from any tennis or weight-training activities for at least 2 weeks, and also to buy the Thera Band Red Flexbar. Here is a list of things I've considered/thought about and I want to know how far I should I take it:

    1) Purchase a ProKennex 5G with VS Natural Gut strings at 50-52 tension. Outfit it with a Wilson Shock Shield grip, OG, and Babolat RVS dampener. I'm unsure if all of this is completely necessary, but my stringer mentioned that a 18x20 string pattern on my MG Radical can be harsher on the arm. It's also still somewhat on the lighter side (11 oz. strung) and is only 2 points head-light. I am also of short stature, with thin wrists and bones and can be more injury-prone (runner's knee, rotator cuff I mentioned, lower back issues) than the average person. My elbow may be very sensitive, and if I played more than weekly with a much stiffer racquet, then my condition might be severely worse.
    2) Stick with 2HBH and focus on correcting forehand technique (loose grip, shoulder turn, less wrist/more body, complete follow-through, hitting out in front).
    3) Purchase Band-It brace.
    4) Massage and ice daily.
  2. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Feb 17, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Stop stressing your elbow with weights, tennis, other stresses. See a Dr and get a firm diagnosis.

    Search: tennis elbow golfer's elbow tendinitis tendinosis

    Locate your pain: Search: CharlieFedererer tendon healing times tennis elbow

    Read the papers in reply #1 & #15 & see CharlieFedererer replies like #14.

    Search: Chas Tennis tennis elbow for my posts with references on the above subjects.

    A few weeks off is not nearly enough and tennis elbow can become chronic - tendinosis - in a short time after the initial injury.

    Your pain does not sound exactly like tennis elbow. ? See a Dr.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  3. andreh

    andreh Professional

    Feb 19, 2004
    Echo the reply above from Chas Tennis.

    Bear in mind at the doctors office, though, that their primary choice of treatment for tendon injuries are still usually cortisone shots + 1-2 weeks of high dose anti-inflamatories (i.e., ibuprofen or equivanlent). This treatment is no longer considered effective but a lot of doctors still prescribe it for some reason.

    Edit: There are even studies that suggest that NSAIDs and cortisone actually impede the healing of tendons. Just google NSAID + tendon healing or tendínosis/tendninitis. tendinosis.org has a lot of information.

    The latest research seems to indicate that most cases of tendon injuries are actually tendinosis - a degenerative condition without inflamation, which is why the above treatment doesn't help.

    I believe that the only remedy where there are good quality studies to back it up is eccentric loading, i.e., eccentric strengthening excersises. A physical therapist can help you with that.

    TE takes a lot of time to get rid of. Patience is a virtue.

    Also, tennis might not be the only contributing factor. You can also get TE from office work such as typing, or manual labor such as working with a screwdriver and a hammer. The onset of pain and the nature of the pain can probably be different with different causes.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  4. mikeler

    mikeler Moderator

    Sep 26, 2008
    Central Florida
    Buy the Theraband flexbar and a hand gripper. The Prince Exo Tour seems to be the most arm friendly frame on the market according to most posters here.
  5. newpball

    newpball Legend

    May 28, 2013
    Head puts poly at stock? :confused:

    Where did you buy this?

    Playing with the same poly for one year was absolutely the wrong thing to do and likely caused the tennis elbow.

    Sounds nice.

    However just to avoid misunderstanding a damper does not do anything except for damping the impact sound.
  6. andreh

    andreh Professional

    Feb 19, 2004
    Yes, the Theraband flexbar and the excersise called the "Tyler twist" or something like it, is a very good eccentric exercise. I've had some success myself with this. Note, though, if you get intense pain when doing it you should probably rest it some more before starting.

    You can find it youtube.
  7. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

    Jul 24, 2013
    I developed severe elbow tendinitis not through tennis, but through intensive heavy weight training.

    Lay off heavy weights until its completed healed. This may take months and months. When you do go back to weight training, start super light and stop if you feel any pain.

    I found swimming laps the best cure for my elbow tendinitis. It healed incredibly fast once I started swimming regularly.

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