Jock Doc

The pain in my elbow from playing tennis has gotten worse. What can I do?

Kevin Anderson of South Africa hits a forehand to Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Miami Open tennis tournament at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in March. Two-time Grand Slam runner-up Anderson is skipping the clay-court swing this season because of a lingering right elbow injury. Tennis elbow can come from overuse.
Kevin Anderson of South Africa hits a forehand to Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Miami Open tennis tournament at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in March. Two-time Grand Slam runner-up Anderson is skipping the clay-court swing this season because of a lingering right elbow injury. Tennis elbow can come from overuse. AP

Q. I have had severe pain on the outside of my right elbow for a month. I work out regularly, and about three months ago returned to playing tennis.

At first, my elbow hurt while I was hitting a backhand shot. Soon after, my elbow bothered me while working out. Now, it even hurts just lifting a quart of milk or shaking hands. Resting it and taking ibuprofen have not helped.

I would love some advice on what to do with my elbow since I cannot work out or play tennis without pain.

A: The muscles that let you straighten out your wrist and fingers begin as a tendon that originates on the outside part of the elbow. Repetitive stresses can result in an overuse injury known as tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.

You do not have to be a tennis player to develop this condition as any kind of overuse — weight training, push-ups, computer work or even lifting briefcases — can result in these symptoms.

Initial treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. A cortisone injection may relieve the symptoms but a proper exercise program is necessary to try and prevent recurrent symptoms.

If these treatment options fail, then PRP injections using plasma from your own blood or a high energy shock wave therapy called “Orthotripsy” can be performed with a good chance of a successful cure.

I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon to confirm your diagnosis and get you moving on the road to recovery.

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

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