Can crochet cause tennis elbow?

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I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy and an avid crocheter.  The first question that I get asked often is does doing crochet cause one to have carpal tunnel syndrome.  I addressed this issue in an earlier blog here.

The second question that people ask me is if crochet can cause tennis elbow or elbow pain.

Here is the answer.

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition which results with repetitive use of the wrist and the arm muscles. The muscles that help us extend the wrist, originate from the lateral aspect (outside when the palm is facing up) of our elbow.  Thus, when the wrist is repeatedly extended, and the wrist extensor muscles are overused, one will experience pain on the outside (lateral) of the elbow.

Does tennis elbow only occur in athletes who play tennis?

No. Contrary to the name, tennis elbow can occur with any kind of repetitive motion of the wrist such as crocheting, biking, etc.  When the pain is on the inside of the elbow, it is known as golfers’ elbow.

Symptoms associated with tennis elbow include:

  • Pain and weakness when turning a doorknob
  • Difficulty holding a cup
  • Difficulty gripping or shaking hands
  • Challenging working on the computer

What causes pain during tennis elbow?

When one performs repetitive motion, the muscles of the forearm must contract and relax.  This causes stress and tiny tears where the muscle attaches to the bone, known as a tendon. The name tendonitis is derived from the word tendon = where the muscle attaches to the bone and “itis” which is inflammation.

What to do when you have tennis elbow or how to prevent tennis elbow during crocheting?

  • Make sure that your wrist is not hyperextended (over extended) while you are crocheting.
  • Stretch before you start – have your elbow straight while you bend the wrist with our other hand.  Hold the stretch for at least 30 sec and repeat it 3X. Do it every 15 min or so when you first start working.
  • Use a pillow or a splint to keep your wrist in a neutral position.
  • Take breaks – don’t overdo it.
  • If your elbow is hurting, ice it – make sure not to leave the ice on for too long on your skin and have the appropriate covering for your skin.
  • Use the right size crochet hook for you.
  • Don’t only work with bulky yarn- change up your yarn.
  • Strengthen your muscles to prevent future injuries.
  • Seek the help of a physical therapist to help you deal with any orthopedic conditions that you might have.

Have you or anyone you know ever suffered from tennis elbow? How did you/they deal with it? Please comment in the comment section below

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