One commonly seen sports injury is tennis elbow, an irritation of a tendon on the outside of the elbow that moves the wrist up and down. Causes for tennis elbow include improper equipment. Tennis elbow can result from using a racquet with a head size that is too small, and with too small a sweet spot, which can contribute to an improperly executed backhand, leading to a torn tendon.
Tennis elbow treatment is usually conservative: ice and anti-inflammatory medications. Sometimes a tennis elbow brace and cortisone injections are required.
Golfers can develop their own form of tennis elbow in which the side of the elbow closest to the chest is affected.
Baseball players also place tremendous stress on the elbow while throwing. This stress sometimes leads to injury. In the past, these were often considered to be career-ending injuries.
Tommy John surgery, named for the first professional baseball player to have the surgery performed, involves transferring a tendon from another part of the body, usually near the wrist, to replace the torn ligament in the elbow. Following surgery, the elbow can, once again, resist the tremendous stresses that it encounters during the throwing motion. This operation enabled Tommy John to resume his career.
Major League players aren’t the only ones to face elbow injuries. For example, a condition called Little Leaguer’s elbow involves repetitive trauma to the growth plates that can cause pain and limit the ability of young baseball players to function in their sport.
Treatment for this condition generally is rest until the pain subsides. It is important that young players learn the proper mechanics of the throwing motion, so that when they return to their sport they don’t re-injure their developing shoulders and elbows.