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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow? Here's How to Tell

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Tennis Elbow

Injuries to the elbow, such as tennis elbow and golfer's elbow, are relatively common in Eagle and Summit counties’ active, outdoor residents.

Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow are both overuse injuries that can cause pain and inflammation around the elbow. They develop as a result of repetitive movements, such as those often used in tennis or golf. However, you don't need to participate in either sport to develop these conditions.

Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow share a few common characteristics and are often confused. In this article, we'll look at the differences between them, plus common symptoms, to help you identify which could be the culprit of your pain.

Differences Between Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Although tennis elbow and golfer's elbow have some similarities, there are a few key differences:

  1. Location: Tennis elbow causes pain and inflammation on the outer side of the elbow, whereas golfer's elbow affects the inside of the elbow.

  2. Symptoms: A person with tennis elbow is more likely to experience pain or a burning sensation down their forearm, along with a weakened grip, while someone with golfer's elbow is more likely to experience inner elbow pain and tenderness.

  3. Tendons Affected: Each condition affects different tendons. You may hear tennis elbow referred to as lateral epicondylitis and golfer's elbow medial epicondylitis.

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is an overuse injury that impacts the outside of the elbow. When a person repeats a motion often enough, the forearm muscles are overworked, resulting in inflammation – and sometimes tears – in the connecting tendons.

Tennis players are not the only ones prone to this condition. It can affect anyone who performs repetitive arm movements, such as painters or carpenters.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

Symptoms of tennis elbow often come on slowly and can worsen over weeks or months. Dr. Joseph’s tennis elbow patients often report the following symptoms:

  • Pain on the outside of the elbow

  • A burning sensation that can radiate down to the forearm and wrist

  • A weakened grip, such as when trying to hold a tennis racquet

What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer's elbow is another overuse injury that results in pain near the bony bump on the inner elbow. It’s caused when the tendons that connect your forearm to your wrist become inflamed.

Despite its name, golfer's elbow is a condition that can affect anyone who overuses the forearm muscles. People who routinely perform activities or play sports that involve swinging, gripping, or flexing are at risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow

Symptoms of golfer's elbow can come on suddenly or gradually and may worsen with particular movements. Signs of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the inner elbow

  • Elbow stiffness

  • Pain when making a fist

  • Weakness in the hands or wrist

  • Numbness and/or tingling in the fingers

Treating Tennis Elbow and Golfer's Elbow

Treatment for Tennis Elbow and Golfer's Elbow

Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow are common injuries that can cause significant pain and limit mobility. Fortunately, if diagnosed early enough, Dr. Joseph can often treat both conditions conservatively with methods such as:

  • Icing

  • Bracing

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Physical therapy

  • Steroid injections

  • Platelet-rich plasma injections

If either injury has progressed to the point where these methods are no longer effective, surgery may be necessary to relieve pain and get you back to doing the activities you love.

Top Elbow Doctor in Eagle and Summit Counties

If you are experiencing elbow pain, contact Dr. Joseph at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery today! Dr. Joseph is the leading expert in elbow injuries and will help you get back in the game!

Schedule an appointment today by calling (970) 476-7220 or using the online contact form.

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