Common Tennis Shoulder Injuries and Treatments

men playing doubles tennis

Few things compare to hitting a fabulous backhand to win a match. Unfortunately, shoulder pain can often leave you struggling to play. Whether you want to get back to volleying with your favorite mid-week partner or you’re trying to get healthy for a tournament, get the right tennis shoulder injury treatment plan to get your swing back.

Typically shoulder injuries don’t affect the bone. Rather, the shoulder pain is a result of issues with the tendons, ligaments, and/or muscles.

For some patients, the shoulder pain is triggered when they lift their arm sideways. For others, it’s pronounced when they lift their arm overhead. There are patients whose shoulder pain worsens at night and those who have throbbing shoulder pain.

Pain can radiate from the base of the neck or be located between the shoulder blades. But no matter where it’s is located or how it’s triggered, all patients have the same question — how do you get rid of shoulder pain?

Man and woman getting ready to play tennis together.
When you get rid of shoulder pain, you can resume the activities you love — like playing tennis.

4 Common Sources of Shoulder Pain

1. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Each time you use a wrench, a small bit of damage occurs to the tool. At first, the damage is not noticeable. In fact, for years you can go on turning and turning the same wrench without noticing any changes. But as bits of the wrench’s surface are scraped away, the damage compounds. Your shoulder is affected by constant use in the same way.

As a tennis player, you’re using your shoulder constantly. And each movement requires a complex network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments to fire and interact at the same time. This repetitive motion can cause the shoulder’s socket to become irritated, eventually leading to tendonitis (aka the inflammation or irritation of a tendon). Tendonitis can cause various degrees of pain, from a nagging shoulder pain to an intense throbbing that can become a consistent presence.

2. Bursitis of the Shoulder

The bursa’s not big. In fact, it’s a small sac filled with fluid located between the bones and tendons within your shoulder. This The sack is what allows your shoulder socket to rotate smoothly and without pain.

Like how tendonitis can be developed over time, your bursa can become inflamed when you overuse your shoulder. The overuse can lead to swelling, ultimately lowering the space within your shoulder and limiting the movement of your shoulder. This can cause your nerves to be pinched and pain to occur.

3. Arthritis

There are many different types of arthritis, but when it comes to the shoulder, the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, because it develops and worsens with use.

Osteoarthritis is a common basketball shoulder injury, football shoulder injury, and tennis shoulder injury.

Related Reading

4. Rotator Cuff Tear

Like tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis, rotator cuff tears can be caused by overuse. However, a rotator cuff tear is commonly a sudden injury (acute injury). This means a tear can happen in a split second.

A rotator cuff tear can be complete, where the ligament or tendon literally tears into two pieces. It can also be partial, where the ligament or tendon frays slightly. Generally speaking, playing through a complete or partial tear is not possible, due to the severe pain it causes.

Man suffering from shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain can come from a variety of sources and though traditional treatments can offer immediate relief, they can pose serious long-term side effects.

Traditional Treatment and Therapy for Shoulder Pain

Traditional treatment remedies for common shoulder injuries include:

  • Cortisone Injections
  • Pain killers
  • Surgery
  • Ice
  • Rest

It is worth noting that there are instances when surgery is the only option for patients dealing with shoulder pain. A complete tear of the ligament can leave a patient with significantly limited shoulder mobility — which can hamper your quality of life.

But surgery is not something that should be undertaken lightly. It comes with many risks, including:

  • Complications due to anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Infections
  • No guaranteed outcomes

It’s also important to note that the side effects of pain killers and cortisone injections may not be suffered right away, but could lead to further damage. These pain treatment protocols mask the pain. This allows you to push your body through the pain, often causing further damage to the tendons, muscles, and ligaments in your shoulder.

Man getting ready to serve.
By helping stimulate your body's natural ability to heal, you can begin feeling better and achieve a higher quality of life.

Prolotherapy Offers Non-Invasive Therapy for Shoulder Pain

Prolotherapy offers a non-invasive, surgery-free alternative to traditional shoulder pain treatment plans. The process uses a small irritant that’s injected at the site of the pain. The injection helps trigger the body’s natural healing process. By increasing the signals from that specific area of the body, it tells your brain that there’s an issue with your shoulder. The brain can then focus more energy on the re-growth of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

A controlled study published in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that patients receiving prolotherapy treatments, “showed improvement in pain, disability, isometric strength, and shoulder AROM in patients with refractory chronic rotator cuff disease.”

In our own clinic, we’ve had patients report life-changing results from prolotherapy treatments — like Ben, who started walking again!

Start Playing Again

Additional Reading

Why Does My Knee Hurt While Cycling?

Cycling’s repetitive motion can cause severe knee pain. Prolotherapy offers a non-invasive, natural way to stimulate your body’s healing process.

Shocking Truths About Traditional Pain Management

What happens when an injury lingers and the pain persists? Do you have to just live with it? No. Prolotherapy can help you heal the cause of the pain.

Knee Injury Symptoms, How to Diagnose Them & How to Treat Them

Tired of knee pain? A good knee pain diagnosis identifies the cause of your pain. Your doctor should take into account not only your symptoms, but your entire lifestyle and past medical history. Learn more here about knee pain and diagnosis!


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