When Backhanded Blaire first made an appointment with the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, her elbow pain was making her life miserable. The devastating pain on the outside of her elbow was bad enough, but it was also preventing her from doing what she loved the most, playing tennis. Backhanded Blaire was in her 40s and she had spent most of her life on tennis courts. Not being able to hit the ball with the racket without pain was making her feel like she had suddenly lost the joy in her life.
“Blaire, tell me about your elbow pain,” the doctor at Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas prompted Backhanded Blaire. “It hurts right here, on the outside of my elbow. And a little bit on my forearm, too. I can feel the pain all the time but it definitely gets worse as soon as I grab my tennis racket,” Backhanded Blaire explained. The doctor then asked if she had tried to relieve the pain at home. “I did put some ice on it, and took some over-the-counter medicine for the pain. But those methods don’t really provide relief,” Backhanded Blaire told the doctor. Before the doctor could say anything she added, “please don’t tell me that I have a tennis elbow!”
As an experienced tennis player, Backhanded Blaire obviously knew about tennis elbow. Several people she knew from the country club had suffered from it, and they all had to leave the courts for long periods of time to recover from the surgery.
The doctor calmed Backhanded Blaire, saying that she shouldn’t worry about it yet, he would conduct a physical exam to determine the cause of her elbow pain. The doctor gently pressed on Backhanded Blaire’s elbow and then asked her to extend her arm and indicate where she felt the pain, exactly. After the physical exam, the doctor went through the results with Backhanded Blaire. “Blaire, it does look like your elbow pain is caused by tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, as we doctors refer to it. Tennis elbow is essentially an inflammation of the tendons on the outside of your elbow. This inflammation is typically caused by repetitive motions that overuse the tendons, such as hitting a tennis ball with a racket. It is not uncommon that you also feel pain in your forearm, because the tendons are connected to the muscles in your forearm,” the doctor explained.
Backhanded Blaire sat still, unable to say anything. Millions of thoughts were going through her head. What if she had to spend a long time recovering from the surgery? What if there were complications? What if she could NEVER play again? When she finally spoke, her voice was weak. “So, when can I have my surgery done?” she asked. “Surgery?” the doctor said, surprised. “I don’t think your situation requires a surgical repair. You came to see us early enough that we can treat your elbow with physical therapy.” Backhanded Blaire’s face changed from sad to relieved and she laughed out loud. She wouldn’t have to get a surgery!
The doctor reminded Backhanded Blaire that she would still need to allow her elbow to recover properly. She would need to avoid activities that caused pain, and wear a brace to help rest the tendons and muscles in her elbow and forearm. Then, she would need to follow the physical therapy program that they would build together of exercises and stretches to help strengthen the muscles in her forearm. Backhanded Blaire nodded, she would do anything to be able to play without pain again!
Now, after completing her physical therapy program, Blaire is back on the tennis court, and her backhand is perfect and pain-free again! And she couldn’t be happier that she decided to go see the Hand Surgery Specialists Texas so early on, because it probably saved her from a surgery.
Are you suffering from similar symptoms to Blaire’s? Make an appointment with us and get your hands back to the game!