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Tennis Elbow VS Golfer's Elbow: How Do They Differ?

Updated: Jan 22


Tennis Elbow VS Golfer's Elbow: How Do They Differ?

Have you been experiencing persistent pain when participating in activities that involve the use of your elbow or forearm? If your answer is yes, then you might be suffering from either a tennis elbow, a golfer’s elbow, or both. Both of these pain conditions occur in the elbow and are often caused by the overuse of the elbow joint. As such, they are also often confused with each other.


However, despite both being injuries in the elbow, there are some significant differences between a tennis elbow and a golfer’s elbow. They are two distinct conditions that come with different symptoms. To understand more about them, here is everything you need to know about tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, including the common treatments for both of them.


What is Tennis Elbow?


Tennis elbow, sometimes also called lateral epicondylitis, is a common elbow injury that occurs because of repetitive motions involving the backhand and forehand. It is characterised by a disruption to the extensor tendons on the exterior of the elbow that reaches down the forearm, wrist, and hand.


Such disruption happens when the tendons become overloaded or overused while engaging in strenuous activities, such as playing racket sports, plumbing, landscaping, and certain desk jobs. As the area on the exterior of the elbow becomes inflamed or irritated, certain symptoms may develop, including the following:


  • Pain on the exterior of the elbow that may travel down the forearm


  • Pain that is worsened by lifting objects, gripping, or doing common wrist movements


  • Pain that may be relieved when you rest your arm and return when you begin to use it again


  • Grip that feels weaker than usual


Tennis elbow usually occurs in individuals who are between the ages of 30 to 50, and in those workers who do plenty of lifting every day or utilise heavy tools. As its name suggests, it is also common among tennis players, specifically those with improper grip, poor swing method, high string tension, and heavy racket.


What is Golfer’s Elbow?


Golfer’s elbow, sometimes also called medial epicondylitis, is another common elbow injury that causes pain, inflammation, and other symptoms on the inside of the elbow and forearm. Like tennis elbow, this condition also happens when there is an overuse of the tendons. Particularly, it occurs when there is an overuse of the flexor tendons, which are the ones that help you close your fingers or flex your wrist.


Generally, golfer’s elbow develops when you always use your arm to carry out movements that require flexing or twisting your wrist. Some of the most common activities that can result in a golfer’s elbow are lifting, shovelling, painting, and other similar tasks that involve gripping. The usual symptoms of this elbow injury include:


  • Inflammation and pain on the inner side of the elbow


  • Pain that is worsened by lifting, gripping, or bending the wrist forward


  • Pain or difficulty in twisting or opening jars and doors


  • Pain that occurs in the so-called “funny bone”


  • Pain when you clench your fist


  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand or wrist


Golfer’s elbow develops in both men and women, especially those between the ages of 30 to 60, and mostly affects their dominant arm. Tennis players are also at a high risk of developing this condition, especially if they have poor mechanics of forehand stroke or a late ball strike.


Can You Have Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow Simultaneously?


The answer to this question is yes. It is possible for a person to have both a tennis elbow and a golfer’s elbow simultaneously since these injuries both involve the overuse of the tendons that attach to the elbow and reach down the forearm.


While they are found on the opposite sides of the elbow and forearm, there are lots of activities that put high demand on both groups of tendons, specifically in sports and workplaces that demand heavy lifting and gripping while the arms or wrists are rotated. To determine if one or both areas have been impacted, a physiotherapist will likely examine and conduct resistance testing on both sets of tendons.


How Are Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow Commonly Treated?


Although tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are distinct conditions with different symptoms, their treatments are quite similar. Both injuries are usually treated with rest. Physicians often recommend patients to take things easy and avoid doing repetitive movements when one or both of these conditions occur. It is also advised to take lots of breaks when carrying out tasks that exasperate the injuries.


In cases where the pain symptoms are severe or significant, you may utilise ice therapy and take anti-inflammatory pain relief medications to ease the symptoms. The majority of patients observe an improvement in their symptoms after resting for several weeks. In Singapore, golfer’s elbow treatment and tennis elbow treatment often involve physical therapy, especially for those conditions that exacerbate or become chronic.


Conclusion


The main difference between a tennis elbow and a golfer’s elbow lies in their symptoms and the group of tendons that they affect. While tennis elbow affects the extensor tendons and leads to symptoms on the outside of the elbow, golfer’s elbow impacts the flexor tendons and develops symptoms that occur on the elbow’s inner side. Knowing this difference is important to determine what treatment options are best for specific patients.


For the most effective and comprehensive treatments for tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow in Singapore, Affinity Pain Clinic is the expert you should choose! We are a reputable pain management specialist that offers an array of excellent treatments, including muscle tear treatment, sport injury treatment, and nerve pain treatment in Singapore.


If you have any enquiries or are planning to schedule an appointment, feel free to get in touch with us by filling out the contact form here.

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