How to Prevent Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as tennis elbow is a repetitive stress injury involving the muscles and tendons of the forearm. Despite the name, only about 5 percent of individuals develop the condition from playing tennis.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is characterized by pain along the outer portion of the forearm that may extend from the elbow to the wrist. The pain is usually most noticeable when bending or lifting the arm, grasping small objects, when moving the forearm in a twisting fashion, or when extending the arm. With proper care and rest, most lateral epicondylitis cases resolve within six months to two years.

Coping With Tennis Elbow Pain

At the first sign of tennis elbow pain, it is important to refrain from any activities that may place stress on the tendons and muscles of the forearm. When possible, try to use the muscles of the forearm, upper arm, and shoulders evenly so that one muscle group does not become overused. When engaging in sports, such as racquetball, tennis, or squash, be sure to use proper form and technique to reduce the chances of strain and injury to muscles and tendons. Warming up before activities that require repetitive movements, using tools and equipment with wider grips, and wearing splints can also help prevent damage to the tendons.

Exercises for Tennis Elbow

The following exercises can help strengthen the forearm muscles so that they are less prone to injury:

  • Wrist Stretches
    Place the forearm on a table allowing the wrist to hang off of the edge with the palm up. Holding a light weight, lift and drop the wrist slowly.
  • Extensor Stretches
    With the wrist bent, grasp the fingers with the opposite hand and gently pull them backward to stretch the muscles and tendons of the forearm.
  • Tricep Stretches
    With the arm bent behind the back, use the opposite hand to place pressure on the affected elbow.
  • Hand Squeezes
    Holding a tennis or similar type ball in the affected hand, practice squeezing and relaxing the hand several seconds at a time.

For more information about available treatment options for tennis elbow, contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of LA Hand Surgeon’s finest plastic hand surgeons. Our selection of Beverly Hills surgeons includes board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons Dr. Arezou Yaghoubian, Dr. S. Daniel Golshani, Dr. James Coleman.

Does Computer Use Create Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

We live in a society where we are exposed to computers at least once a day, spending anywhere from an hour to several hours in front of one. Your hands are constantly typing or operating the mouse to navigate your computer or the Internet. So the question becomes… does repetitive computer usage increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?

The most obvious answer you may be thinking is, “well of course it does!”. The good news is that research suggests otherwise. A study was done on people who heavily used the computer, specifically the keyboard, everyday for at least 6-7 hours a day. The study contained a sample of 250 people where only 9 of them actually had carpal tunnel. The studies concluded that heavy computer usage is not correlated with an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Individuals who are Susceptible to Carpal Tunnel

You may not develop carpal tunnel syndrome specifically, but it’s certainly possible that repetitive mouse and keyboard usage will result in some strain to your hands. 30% of the 250 people who were studied reported that they felt numbness or pins-and-needles in their hands; however, these same people did not meet the criteria to be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

How to Use the Computer in a Safe Way to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Of course there is! Simple changes go a long way. You can place a rolled up towel in front of your keyboard to rest your hands on while you type. This will allow your fingers to perform most of the work. You can even find comfortable keyboard wrist supports online in different variations.

It also helps to have strengthened wrists. This can be done using a wrist grip for only a couple minutes a day. If you do not have a wrist grip, then a low weight dumbbell works too. Simply hold the dumbbell in your hand, keep your hand flat and use only your fingers to move it up and down. All it takes is a few minutes a day.

It’s the repetition of movement that will catch up to you. Take frequent small breaks throughout the day to let your wrists relax. Get up, walk around, and stretch for a bit.

Look into different mice options. Some mice are not as rough on your wrists and require little to no finger movement. A great example is a trackball mouse, which essentially require only your fingers to move the cursor around.

Ultimately, the best defense to carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist pain is to avoid computers altogether.