Once you know how to spot common tennis injuries, what do you do if you are suffering from one? Whenever possible, your doctor will likely try to treat you without surgery first. Unless the injury is severe, many tennis injuries can be successfully treated without the need for surgery.
Nonsurgical Options for Common Tennis Injuries
If you feel any pain or weakness in any area after playing tennis, it is always a good idea to seek the help of a medical professional. An accurate diagnosis of the injury is necessary to ensure that you are treating the injury in the best possible way, so that you can get back on the court as soon as possible. Never start a treatment plan without consulting your doctor first.
Nonsurgical treatment of tennis elbow is often quite successful. The majority of patients with tennis elbow will not need surgery. Rest is an important part of treatment; you will likely need to avoid tennis and other sports for several weeks. Your doctor may suggest that you wear a brace to help with resting of the forearm muscles. Over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen can help to reduce pain and swelling. Steroid injections like cortisone can also help with inflammation. Your doctor may also suggest physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in your forearm.
Rotator Cuff Tears
In some cases, depending on the severity of the injury, rotator cuff tears can be treated without surgery. Nonsurgical treatment of rotator cuff injuries involves rest and avoiding activities that increase shoulder pain. Your doctor may advise that you wear a sling to immobilize the shoulder. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can help with pain and swelling. Your doctor may also administer a steroid injection to help with swelling. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises can help to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. However, nonsurgical treatment often cannot restore strength in the shoulder, and may eventually require surgery if you wish to continue playing tennis.
Stress Fractures in the Lower Back
Symptoms of stress fractures often go away over time with nonsurgical treatment. Rest and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen are often recommended. Your doctor may also suggest that you wear a back brace to allow the defect in the spine to heal. Physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the core muscles that support the back. Patients should resume activities gradually to lower the chances of recurring symptoms. If the vertebra slips and the patient develops spondylolisthesis, surgery may be necessary.
Patellar Tendonitis (aka Jumper’s Knee)
Doctors often try to treat jumper’s knee with more conservative methods before resorting to surgery. Medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can help with pain, and physical therapy and stretching exercises can help to strengthen and restore function in the knee. Cortisone injections may help to reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also suggest platelet-rich plasma injections to help promote healing in the damaged tissues. A sample of the patient’s blood is placed in a special centrifuge to separate the platelets from other blood cells, creating plasma with a high concentration of platelets that can then be injected into the injured area. Platelets contain proteins called growth factors that aid in the healing process, and can help some patients avoid surgery.
Almost all sprained ankles will heal without the need for surgery. Nonsurgical treatment involves a period of rest, during which you should avoid walking on the ankle. You can apply an ice pack to keep the swelling down, and use compression bandages to support and immobilize your ankle. You should also try to keep your ankle elevated above your heart for the first two days after the injury. Your doctor may also suggest that your wear a splint or removable castboot as you heal. You can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to help with pain.
Playing with an Injury
If you suspect that you are injured, you should stop playing immediately. Never try to “play through” an injury, as that can make things worse and increase your recovery time in the long run. It is always better to err on the side of caution. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, seek the help of a doctor. Early detection and treatment of an injury is critical to shortening your recovery time and getting you back on the court in good shape.