What’s the Difference Between Golfers’ Elbow and Tennis Elbow?
- 7 September 2011 by Leah Urbanosky MD
When golfers and tennis players swing, regardless of the player’s skill or form, pressure is placed on the elbow. And, over time, the muscles and tendons of the forearm can become inflamed and cause pain. This condition is commonly referred to as golfers’ elbow or tennis elbow.
Repetitive motion, like a golf or tennis swing, can cause strain on any muscle group that is being over worked. In the elbow, tendons connect muscle to the bones in the elbow. If these are irritated or torn, it can cause extreme discomfort.
Although both golfers’ and tennis elbow affect the tendons, muscles and ligaments in the forearm and elbow joint, where exactly the pain is located is the primary difference between the two injuries.
Called “medial epicondylitis,” this condition causes pain on the inside (medial) of the forearm, but can extend from the elbow to the wrist. ymptoms of golfers’ elbow are restricted movement, stiffness and weakness in the elbow, forearm and sometimes the wrist.
Called “lateral epicondylitis,” this condition causes pain on the outside (lateral) of the forearm, and can worsen with certain movements, like grasping a tennis racquet, opening a jar or even gripping a hairbrush.
Despite their names, these conditions are not limited to golfers and tennis players. Other everyday activities that require repetitive motion, like house painting, can cause overuse and irritation to the elbow too.
Prevention is the key to any injury
It is important to get blood and oxygen flowing into the muscles you will be using.
Flexibility of muscles and tendons is key to being able to endure repetitive movements without being overstretched.
Perform exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the elbow.
Wear a brace.
If already experiencing weakness in the elbow,
forearm or wrist, wear a brace to prevent the condition from worsening.
Regardless of the cause elbow or forearm pain, these conditions should not be left untreated and a visit to an orthopedic surgeon should be made for proper diagnosis.
Dr. Urbanosky often treats patients with tennis elbow and golfers’ elbow. She may recommend a combination of physical therapy, rest and the use of anti-inflammatory medication. She may also suggest a brace to stabilize the arm, which takes some pressure off of the muscle and tendon. If these treatments do not provide enough relief, there are other non-surgical options available, such as cortisone injections.
Dr. Urbanosky has offices in Joliet and New Lenox, IL and highly recommends paying attention to changes in your elbow, forearm, or any new onset of symptoms.
If you have any questions about tennis elbow, golfers’ elbow or any discomfort you may be experiencing, reply in the space below, or call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Urbanosky at 815-462-3474.