Tennis elbow? But I don’t even play tennis!

I’m not an athlete. Outside of running sprints on field day in grade school, I’ve never really been an athlete (not to brag, but I did win quite a few blue ribbons!). I was a cheerleader, so I was active, but participating in competitive sports wasn’t and isn’t of interest to me. However, wanting to be healthy, I’ve been exercising on a fairly regular basis for several years. Nothing too strenuous, mostly fast-paced walking on the treadmill ramped up to a pretty good incline.

I felt my arms could use a little better workout than just swinging them back and forth while I walked, so I added some 2.5-pound weights while I was warming up. About three months ago, I started experiencing a little pain in my left elbow during these brief exercises. I’m thinking, “For goodness sake, it’s just a little weight. Buck up!”

I should have listened to the pain, but a little story I’d heard influenced me otherwise. According to the story, an older lady liked to sit in her comfy chair doing knitting, or some such activity. She had a side table nearby for her glasses, a cup of tea and a book. One day she reached for her glasses and felt a pain, so the next time she had family visit she had them move her side table closer to her chair. That was fine for a while, but before too long she reached for something on the side table again and felt a pain. As you can guess, her family moved the side table closer to her chair until the chair and table were nudged up against one another. Eventually, the older lady’s world was reduced to that chair and side table.

I’ve resolved not to be that lady. I want to be a woman of *finesse, so I ignored the pain and kept using the weights. When the pain persisted after exercising, I decided to make a doctor’s appointment. My symptoms provided the diagnosis of lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow.

According to WebMD, tennis elbow affects 1 to 3 percent of the population overall and less than 5 percent of all tennis elbow diagnoses are related to actually playing tennis. It most often affects people between the ages of 30 and 50 (men more than women), although people of any age can be affected. It also affects athletes other than tennis players and people who participate in leisure or work activities that require repetitive arm, elbow, and wrist movement.

Two weeks after the diagnosis I’m still applying cold packs, heat packs, massaging the area, taking ibuprofen, and generally resting my arm. Next up, some physical therapy. From now on I’ll be listening to my body when it’s trying to tell me something.

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)