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"How much tennis do I have to play before getting tennis elbow?"
I am 28 and have played tennis my entire life. Recently my elbow has started to tingle a little. Could I be developing tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is a painful condition of the outer elbow due to a repetitive stress injury. Although most famously associated with playing tennis, it can be due to any activity that produces repeated stress on the outer elbow, such as lifting with an outstretched arm. Tennis elbow is due to inflammation and irritation of the tissues of the lateral (outside) surface of the elbow, most commonly associated with the tendons that help extend (tilt back) your hand. Some individuals develop this inflammation after very few episodes of repeated stress to these tendons, whereas other individuals will go their entire lives without developing this pain.
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It often starts with a tingling sensation, and progresses to more severe pain and even difficulty moving the hand if there is nerve entrapment or involvement. The tingling in your elbow certainly could be tennis elbow, particularly as you are an avid tennis player. I would urge you to seek an in-person consultation with your primary care doctor to establish the diagnosis. The general principles of rest, ice, and elevation will help with any inflammatory injury, tennis elbow included. The only definitive treatment for tennis elbow is to stop the repetitive stress which caused the injury in the first place, so it will be important to establish the diagnosis early and have a conversation about the things you can try to help prevent worsening of your elbow pain.
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