Jock Doc

Jock Doc: Some overuse tennis injuries can be prevented

Q. I am excited for the Sony Ericsson Tennis Tournament but have also heard that several of the stars are not appearing due to injuries. What are the most common injuries you see in pro tennis players that would keep them from playing?

Sports injuries are divided into two categories: acute traumatic injuries and overuse injuries. The most common traumatic injuries in tennis are ankle sprains and muscle pulls. Some of these can be prevented by proper warm-up and stretching before playing, as well as the right tennis shoe.

I have been involved as one of the physicians at the Sony Championships for nearly 20 years. The most common overuse injuries we see are tennis elbow, which is a pain on the outside part of the elbow from overuse “lateral epicondylitis.”

With the changes in racket technology, wrist problems are now quite frequent. They can be very painful and debilitating for a tennis player. The most common wrist injuries are ligamentous disruption and injuries to the triangular fibrocartilage complex “TFCC.”

Overuse injuries of the shoulder, known as an impingement syndrome, are a form of rotator cuff tendinitis and bursitis. They are common among today’s elite tennis players.

Lower back overuse injuries, including strains and stress fractures, are not unusual with the changes in service motion and racket technology. Overuse injuries in the knee seen in elite tennis players frequently are kneecap tendinitis and stress fractures, which are microfractures of the bone.

Professional tennis players have a training staff that helps evaluate an injury and seeks the appropriate treatment. There are also strength and conditioning coaches who work with athletes to improve flexibility and teach proper warm-up and training techniques to prevent these overuse injuries.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to

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