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Joint and muscle pain can be very devastating, particularly if it is in the elbow.
Elbow joints and muscles control our entire hands and help in our activities pertaining to the use of arms.
Involvement in everyday activities, not just sports, that requires frequent movement/twisting of the arms and elbow joints have led to increased number of injuries to the elbow region.
One type of injury that occurs within the elbow due to overuse is Epicondylitis.
Two basic types of this injury are Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
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Many people suffer from either one of the two but …
They get quickly confused about which one it is they have.
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This in depth article will discuss everything you need to know about these two types of injuries, and go into deep details to answer all your queries you have regarding these nagging elbow conditions.
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Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, tends to occur along the outside of the elbow at the area of the lateral epicondyle.
It is not uncommon for the symptoms of pain and discomfort to radiate out from the areas of origin, either up or down the arm.
Common symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Tenderness on the outside of the elbow
- Weakness in the forearm
- Weak grip
- Pain when gripping things
- Pain that originates from the outside of the elbow and runs down the forearm
These symptoms start gradually but may get worse over time.
When finished with this in depth article, be sure to check out Mirza Orthpedics post on this topic.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
The causes of tennis elbow include the following:
- Accidental banging or knocking of the elbow
- Excessive use of the elbow in different sports like tennis, cricket, and others
- Activities like gardening or decorating
- Strained muscles of the forearm
You don’t necessarily have to be Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal or Novac Djokovic to get this injury.
Any person using the forearms excessively are more likely to get affected by this.
Activities that can cause Tennis Elbow
Any person can develop tennis elbow by performing any form of activity that involves repeatedly twisting the wrist and using the forearms.
Some of the examples are:
- Playing racket sports like tennis, badminton or squash
- Throwing sports like javelin or discus
- Excessive use of shears while gardening
- Use of a paintbrush or roller
- Typing or writing
- Playing the violin or guitar
- Swinging the baseball bat or pitching the ball
Playing racket sports for the first time after a long gap can increase the risk of developing tennis elbow.
It is important to note that only five out of one hundred active individuals actually get tennis elbow from racket sports.
Moreover, an individual’s age is also considered to be a risk factor.
Adults between the ages of 30 and 50 are among the most common to be diagnosed with tennis elbow.
Home Remedies for Tennis Elbow
Any type of injury is bad and can put you out from your work for a longer time.
In the case of tennis elbow, it is better to look for remedies.
Some of them are:
- Ice the area for around 20 minutes twice a day. It will help to decrease inflammation and relieve pain. Do not use ice directly, wrap it in a towel and then apply.
- Rest the sore area to prevent further damage.
In order to prevent the injury in the first hand, it is wise to wear pads on the elbow while playing sports or performing other activities.
In case you have previously faced tennis elbow injury, you should wear it quite often to support your muscles and make sure you don’t cause any further damage to your elbow joint, muscles, and the tissues.
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, tends to occur at the inside of the area that connects the forearm to the elbow.
It causes pain and inflammation in the affected area.
The center of the pain is the bony bump on the inside part of the elbow and may radiate into the forearm.
It can usually be treated with rest.
Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
The symptoms of golfer’s elbow include the following:
- Pain and tenderness on the inside part of the elbow
- Pain that starts from the inside of the elbow and radiates down the forearm
- Weakness in the hand or wrist
- Pain when flexing the wrist
- Pain when gripping things
- Numbness in the ring or little fingers
The symptoms may grow over time if proper treatment is not provided to the patient.
Causes of Golfer’s Elbow
Also sometimes called as the pitcher’s elbow, the causes of golfer’s elbow include the following:
- Excessive use of the elbow or wrists
- Not caring about a minor pain in the elbow
It is worth noting here that the causes can be same as the tennis elbow however, the pain would be on the inside part of the elbow.
Here is another great take on this topic from a trusted source over at New York Orthopedics.
Activities that can cause Golfer’s Elbow
It is not necessary that only golfers are affected by golfer’s elbow.
Any person involving in activities that make use of excessive forearm or wrist movements are likely to get affected by golfer’s elbow.
However, this is not as common as tennis elbow as the number of reported cases is very less as compared to tennis elbow’s cases.
Some of the activities include:
- Playing sports or performing acrobatics
- Any sports that require the movement of the elbows or the wrist
Home Remedies for Golfer’s Elbow
Remedies for Golfer’s elbow include the following:
- Put your fingers, wrist, and elbow to rest and make sure you are not using the hand frequently.
- Use ice wrapped in a towel and apply it to the affected area.
- Try using a splint.
Treatment of Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow
Jump to the cheat notes on treating golfers elbow at home.
Before determining the appropriate treatment for your symptoms, the doctor will conduct a detailed physical examination.
The doctor may ask the affected person about the underlying cause of pain and discomfort.
The physical examination of the elbow will include palpation of the area and physical manipulation as well.
It is required in order to assess the degree of joint stiffness, flexibility, pain, and muscle weakness.
After the thorough physical examination, the doctor may use other imaging techniques to diagnose the type of Epicondylitis such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and X-ray.
In order to assess the possibility of nerve compression, electromyography (EMG) may also be used.
According to the results of a study conducted, a majority of the cases are treated effectively without the need of surgery.
Nearly 95% of the patients suffering from either golfer or tennis elbow are able to achieve relief using the following techniques which are non-surgical in nature:
It is commonly recommended to patients suffering from pain or discomfort within the elbow region which occurs as a result of strain, injury or excessive use.
Individuals are asked to suspend their involvement in sports or other activities that are related to the injury.
This cures the injury as well as prevents further damage.
Physio may be suggested where injury specific stretches and exercises that are targeted to strengthen your condition.
Some patients may experience symptoms of refractory and chronic pain which are related to epicondylitis.
These patients are unable to achieve relief from other methods and that is when steroid injections come to the rescue.
These injections, when applied to the affected area can reduce inflammation and pain.
In some cases, a protective brace can be worn to restrict the movement of the joint and muscles.
This increases the chances of quick recovery and promotes healing. It also prevents further damage to the joints and the muscles.
Over the Counter Analgesics
The physicians may also recommend the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
This is known as over the counter analgesics.
Surgery remains the last measure that may be used by the physicians.
The most common method involves the removal of deteriorated muscle tissue and reattachment of the healthy muscle.
However, there are a number of risks involved with surgical intervention to treat these types of epicondylitis. These risks include:
- Infection or bleeding at the area
- Accidental vascular or neural damage to the tissue
- Loss of flexibility within the elbow joint
- Loss of strength in the elbow joint and the wrists as well
- Need for additional surgeries
Tennis elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow – The Differences
Above is all the description about the symptoms, causes, and treatments pertaining to tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
However, in order to clearly answer the question tennis elbow vs. golfer’s elbow, discussing their differences are important. Some of the differences are:
- In tennis elbow, the pain is outside the elbow while in golfer’s elbow, the pain is in the inside area of the elbow.
- Golfer’s elbow is least common as compared to tennis elbow. The number of reported cases of tennis elbow are more than the reported cases of golfer’s elbow.
- Golfer’s elbow can be treated with rest while tennis elbow may or may not be treated with rest and the chances of surgery are high.
- Tennis elbow may take a longer time to heal while golfer’s elbow takes less time.
To conclude, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are pain conditions that emerge as a result of overuse, injury or strain in the elbow joint.
Tennis elbow often manifests symptoms of pain along the outer part of the elbow, as it is related to small tears caused to the lateral epicondyle.
Golfer’s elbow most commonly leads to pain along the inside of the elbow, as it is associated with a strain to the medial epicondyle.
The treatment methods to be used totally depend on the condition of the injury.
These injuries are not only for the athletes only, however, a major number of the patients are athletes.
The recovery time also depends on the scale of the injury.
If it is severe, it can take months to get back in shape completely and if it is now very severe, within weeks the patient can start his operations.
When you feel that the pain and inflammation are less than it was in the initial days, try to return to your normal activities but don’t go too hard at them.
It will warm up the relaxed muscles and make sure that they are not locked.
Keeping things light and simple would prove helpful in the recovery of these injuries and no matter how old the patient is, they would get back to normal life sooner than expected.
We hope that now you would have known all about tennis elbow vs. golfer’s elbow.
It is better to be safe and use your hands in a balanced manner.
If you are involved in some work that requires frequent movement of the hands, make sure you get your hands massaged when you get some free time.
Not only would it relax your muscles but it would also ensure the health and strength of the muscles.
Not every pain is tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow. Rather diagnosing it yourself, it is better to visit and consult a doctor and they would guide you further if it is realty these sort of injuries or not.
We hope you found this article helpful and informative.
We have tried to cover each and everything related to epicondylitis and hope that it answers all your queries.
But here’s the thing…
For those who are serious about overcoming either golfers or tennis elbow …
Check out the video on the next page that describes a fail-proof strategy you can implement right now from the comfort of your own home.
In just 5 easy steps!
is the author of Tennis Elbow Secrets Revealed which has been teaching individuals how to overcome their tennis elbow injury at home since 2005 with over 1,767,986 copies sold.
He is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Exercise Rehab Specialist based in Vancouver, BC, Canada