Tennis / Golfers Elbow: How are they Different?

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Sarah Williams

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Before you close this page since you don’t play golf or tennis, it will interest you to know that these issues aren’t peculiar only to golfers or tennis players. The reality is that these conditions occur due to frequent elbow stress. Hence, common daily activities could lead to these issues; a typical example is typing.

As a result, many persons might experience one of these at certain points in their lives without even knowing whether they are suffering from tennis or golfer’s elbow. The reason for this confusion is because of the similarities between both.

Therefore, in this article, we will clear up this confusion. To do that, we will look at their respective causes, the differences, and also the treatments for both.

Tennis / Golfers Elbow

Let’s begin, shall we?

What Tennis Elbow Is

This condition also called lateral epicondylitis affects the outer part of a person’s elbow. This form of tendonitis is painful and leads to inflammation as well as microtears within the tendons that are attached to the lateral epicondyle. Click here to learn more about tendonitis.

The lateral epicondyle is the bony bulge of the outer part of the arm joint. It influences the muscles that straighten the fingers and extends the wrist in a backward motion.

Since this condition is a type of overuse injury, it is caused by the repeated contractions of the forearm muscle. Frequent tendon strain could lead to several symptoms that flow from the arm joint to the forearm.

When lateral epicondylitis starts, a burning or painful sensation is first felt in the patient’s elbow and can get worse as time progresses. The case becomes worse at a faster rate if the movement specifically involves the straightening or extensions of the arm joint.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

The following are the symptoms of this condition:

  1. Tenderness of your elbow: This could lead that area of the body to feel sore whenever it is touched.
  2. Weak grip:It becomes difficult togrip or lift objects.

iii. Pain in the wrist: Frequent pain in the wrist might occur whenever the wrist is used.

  1. Sharp pain: A person suffering from this condition might experience sharp pains in the arm from time to time.
  2. Aching: The elbow might have a slight ache often. This could even happen when the arm is not being used.
  3. Numbing or tingling sensation: The fingers might begin to feel tingly or numb.

What Golfer Elbow Is

This condition also called medial epicondylitis affects the inner part of the elbow. Since it is also a tendonitis type, it causes painful inflammation as well as microtears within the tendons attached to the medial epicondyle. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicondyle to read more about epicondyle.

The medial epicondyle is the bony bulge of the inner part of the arm joint. The medial epicondyle’s attached tendons affect the movement of the muscles that cause the wrist to rotate and allow the fingers to contract and grip objects.

Symptoms of Golfer Elbow

The following are symptoms of this condition:

  1. Tenderness and pain: The inner part of the arm joint might feel tender and painful when touched. You might also feel the pain spread to your forearms. The pain might get worse when you try out certain motions.
  2. Numbing or tingling sensations: These sensations might occur across your fingers. In some cases, it might just be a finger, and sometimes, it might be more. In most cases, the little and the ring fingers are the most affected.

iii. Weakness of the wrist and hand: These parts of the body lose their strength to a large degree. This, in turn, affects the actions you can perform with your hand.

  1. Stiffness: The inner part of the bend of your arm may be stiff which will also lead to pain especially when your hand is folded into a fist.
  2. Aching: The inner part of the arm joint when used or after use will feel achy as a result of the activity you engaged in no matter how little.

Differences between Lateral Epicondylitis and Medial Epicondylitis 

Below are the main differences between these conditions:

1. Location

This is the number one difference when you try to differentiate between these two conditions. Tennis tendonitis affects the outer part of the arm joint as well as the forearm areas. On the other hand, golfer’s tendonitis affects the inner part of the arm joint and the arm itself.

2. The Affected Tendon

Lateral epicondylitis causes damage to the outer tendon connected to the muscles responsible for spreading the fingers and stretching the wrist backward. Meanwhile, the medial epicondylitis causes damage to the inner tendon that is connected to the muscles responsible for wrist flexing as well as fingers contraction.

3. Symptoms

As you might have noticed above, the symptoms of both conditions are strikingly similar. However, the effect is felt in different locations as we just revealed. The discomfort felt on the outer part of the cubital joint is a result of the tennis elbow. In contrast, the discomfort felt on the inner part of the cubital joint is a result of the golfers elbow.

Treatment for Both Conditions

For tennis elbow treatment, we recommend the following:

  1. Rest
  2. Avoid certain activities

iii. Apply ice to the area affected

  1. Take prescribed medications for inflammation
  2. Use orthotics (a brace or splint)
  3. Tape your forearm

vii. Massage the affected area

viii. Engage in physical therapy.

If your condition is severe and cannot be treated by the conservative options we just listed, you should see your physician. They will recommend any of the following treatments depending on the severity of the issue:

  • Dry needling
  • Cortisone injection
  • Surgery

For golfers elbow treatment, we recommend the following:

  1. Restrict your arm activity
  2. Apply ice to the area affected

iii. Perform stretching exercises for your forearm muscles

  1. Take prescribed medications for inflammation
  2. Use orthotics (a brace or splint)
  3. Engage in physical therapy

vii. Go for a pulsed ultrasound

viii. Engage in occupational therapy

If none of the conservative options above alleviates the pain, then going to your physician is the best course of action. They will recommend any of the following treatments depending on the severity of the issue:

  • Cortisone injections
  • Platelet-rich plasma therapy
  • Surgery

Conclusion

In the article above we have revealed the differences between tennis and golfers elbow.

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