Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow – What’s the Difference?

Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow – What’s the Difference?

May 8, 2023

The pain and loss of range of movement from tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow can significantly impact a person’s life. But instead of merely accepting an injury, it’s crucial to understand how the injury occurred in the first place. A proper diagnosis can lead to an effective treatment plan and help prevent future injuries. 

Comparisons Between Golfer’s & Tennis Elbow

While damage for both conditions occurs in the elbow tennis elbow, and golfer’s elbow are different injuries. While the causes may be similar, each affects a different elbow region. The medical term for golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis, while tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. The word epicondylitis means inflammation in the tendons surrounding the elbow due to sudden trauma or a repetitive motion. The medical term “lateral” refers to the outer part of a region, while “medial” refers to the inner part. 

For tennis elbow, the inflammation occurs where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the outside of your elbow. For golfer’s elbow, the inflammation occurs where the tendons attach to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. 

Pain and discomfort may be felt in a specific region when a person makes a fist, grips something, flexes their wrist, or moves their elbow. Unfortunately, most people ignore this pain and stiffness, leading to a more severe injury.

Is It Possible to Have Both Conditions Together?

Yes, a patient can have tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow simultaneously. While these conditions are common among those who play golf and tennis, they can impact people who enjoy other strenuous activities, including various racquet sports, knitting, and rock climbing. It can also affect people in specific industries, such as plumbers, electricians, cooks, and musicians.

Treatments for Tennis Elbow & Golfer’s Elbow

The first step is to address the pain as soon as possible. A few simple treatments include the following:

  • Stretching and Strengthening: Special exercises that stretch and strengthen the arm and wrist muscles. A physical therapist can evaluate and develop a set of exercises for you.
  • Manual Therapy: This includes some exercises, as well as massages.
  • Painkillers: Use over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as needed for pain.
  • Dry Needling: Dry needling helps relieve pain, stimulates cellular activity around the injury site, and enhances healing.

In addition to these methods to heal the injury, one should be evaluated for how the injury occurred. Correcting the movement (i.e., your tennis or golf swing) and mobility issues can prevent the recurrence of the injury.

Pin Point Physical Therapy

Are you experiencing pain and suspect it’s tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow? Pin Point Physical Therapy can help. Our physical therapists will not only diagnose your elbow condition but also work to determine the exact cause. Finding a good treatment for your pain is essential, but so is finding the reason for the injury to help prevent future elbow injuries. As a result, golf and tennis players can regain their full range of motion and build their strength and mobility for the future. Contact Pin Point Therapy at 704-612-6797 and schedule an appointment today.

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