The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

5 Most Common Tennis Injuries

Posted by on Friday, June 14th, 2013


Back in January, it looked like Rafael Nadal’s future could be compromised by a knee injury. Yet, by June he was beating Novac Djokovic, one of the best tennis players of all time, in the French Open Semi Finals. Tennis injuries are common among professionals and amateurs alike. Overuse injuries account for two-thirds of those suffered, while the remaining third is due to a sudden, traumatic event. It is estimated that there are 54 tennis injuries for every 1,000 matches played. Here are the five most common injuries suffered on the court.

Tennis Elbow / Lateral Epicondylitis

Tennis elbow symptoms include minor and localized pain in the joint and restricted movement. The pain often increases when the fingers are fully straight or when the wrist is bent backward. The cause of epicondylitis tends to be poor technique. Your racket strings may be too tight or you may be using wet balls. It’s important to strengthen the forearm and do warm-ups before each practice to prevent this type of injury. A properly sized racket with good grips is also essential.

Tennis Leg

While not as widely publicized as the elbow, “tennis leg” is a partial tear of the gastrocnemius, a large calf muscle. This painful injury feels like being hit by a ball directly in the calf. Many players try to walk it off, but hobble off the court to rest, thinking they’ve suffered a cramp. Players are advised to take it easy for a few days to prevent the tear from worsening. Proper warm-up like jogging the perimeter, is really important. From there, you can stretch out the muscles further. Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration is also a good strategy for preventing muscle tears, says Dr. Joseph Horrigan.

Tennis Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder pain occurs due to repeated stresses during tennis serves. The most common cause is an inflammation of the fluid-filled Bursa in a condition called Shoulder Bursitis. It’s possible for the Bursa to become impinged between the muscles and the bones of the shoulder, causing pain in the rotator cuff whenever the arm is raised. Physiotherapists can run athletes through a series of shoulder exercises that can help with flexibility and range of motion. Workouts should be increased gradually to decrease the likelihood of injury. Cold packs and anti-inflammatory medicine often helps.

Low Back Pain

Playing on harder surfaces can lead to low back pain. Often, small stress fractures occur. You’ll know a stress fracture by a constant dull ache and particularly sharp pain when you bend backward or rotate and bend simultaneously. Clay courts are much softer than asphalt, for example. Players can also wear heel inserts to absorb some of the shock and reduce lower lumbar injuries. The type of equipment selected can also have an impact on how hard the game will be on the body, experts say. Strengthening the core muscles surrounding the spine will build stability.

Wrist Injury

Sprains and carpal tunnel are commonly suffered by tennis players. A sprain can cause the median nerve to become compressed, which is what causes pain radiating down the wrist and into the thenar eminence (the pad of the thumb). Braces can be purchased to stabilize the wrist, but cold therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and rest are also recommended. Sprains typically go away on their own, but carpal tunnel can be a chronic condition requiring surgery. This easy outpatient procedure involves cutting the carpal ligament to make room for the nerve. Adjusting grip can be helpful in preventing future wrist injuries.

Bonus: Don’t Forget About The Sprained Ankle!

Achilles, calf and plantar fascial injuries are prevalent tennis-related injuries because of the explosive nature of the sport, but the most common injury treated by the doctors at The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine is the sprained ankle.

The doctors use the latest technologies to help the tennis player return to the court, including the MLS laser and biopuncture treatments.

“The MLS laser is effective in reducing the acute edema and pain that accompanies an ankle injury,” says Dr. Geldwert of the CPCSM. “And biopuncture is beneficial in promoting drainage and in the healing of ligament injury.”

Call 212-996-1900 for the most innovative tennis injury treatments in NYC.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.