Don’t play the sport? You can still get tennis elbow

By Megan Wehring 

DRIPPING SPRINGS – Fewer than one in 10 people who have tennis elbow actually play the game.

It may start out as just an ache on the outside of your elbow, according to a report by Healthgrades, but as weeks or even months pass, that feeling can evolve into a severe burning pain. Little tasks like shaking hands, shaving or lifting light-weight objects become nearly impossible. This can be a case of lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow – and oftentimes, it has nothing to do with tennis.

“It could come from a simple thing such as just typing too much on your computer,” said Dr. Derek Shellman at Airrosti in Dripping Springs. “It could come from your job if you work a lot with your forearms, like if you are an electrician or if you work a lot in a garden. What really happens is overuse of the outside part of the elbow and then when that overuse happens, you get tendinitis or inflammation and that can really hurt every time you use it.”

Most people who play tennis, or other throwing/racket sports, don’t end up getting tennis elbow. About 5% of people whose jobs involve repetitive arm motions or vibrating tools also develop the injury, the Healthgrades report stated. 

Rest is the first step to consider but that may not be an option for everyone. 

“If it’s your job to do something that is repetitive with your wrist, like a gardener or something, it’s kind of hard to rest from your job,” Dr. Shellman said. “I would say the first line of defense is to get in to see somebody to look at the tight tissues on the forearm and elbow. That could be a chiropractor, physical therapist or massage therapist. But then you also want to look at more exercises.”

“That area of the body will start to get weak because we don’t want to use it when it gets painful,” Dr. Shellman explained. “When the tendon of the elbow gets weak, it’s going to become even more painful. “

If results are not seen after a few weeks of treatment with seeing a medical professional and/or exercises, Dr. Shellman said that the patient can look at getting a steroid shot in the area. 

“What that’s meant to do is trying to take down any short-term pain,” Dr. Shellman said. “It’s not a permanent solution but it will give you some temporary relief.”

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Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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