Most Common Tennis Wrist Injuries: What’s Your Grip?

Ernesto Luciano-Perez, MD, of Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists

Ernesto Luciano-Perez, MD, Medical Director of Bon Secours Sports Medicine

Wrist injuries are commonly seen in tennis players, although not as frequently as in the shoulder and elbow.

Tendon problems occur in tennis players of all levels. The type of injuries correlate with the type of grip used. Eastern grips tend to produce issues with the radial (thumbs side) side of the wrist, where as those using the Western or Semi-Western grip tend to develop issues on the Ulnar side. In theory, the Eastern grip accommodates a moderate amount of topspin without compromising speed and accuracy. The Western grip allows for maximal topspin. It has become very popular with professionals who play in slower clay-courts.

The most common wrist tendinitis on the radial (thumb) side is De Quervains tenosynovitis. It affects the tendons of the first dorsal compartment. On the ulnar side, the most common injury is extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) tendonitis. It frequently occurs in players who prefer two-handed backhand grip.

In the case of both injuries, immobilization, rest, anti-inflammatory medication and occasional steroid injections are often sufficient to eradicate the pain.

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