Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow: What’s the Difference?

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To make some injuries less ambiguous to their patients, physicians often give complicated injuries a more relatable name. For instance, the common name for lateral epicondylitis is “tennis elbow,” since it’s often seen in athletes who play tennis and other racket sports.

Common names can give someone a quick idea of what their condition involves without requiring extensive medical research. However, sometimes these names can do the opposite and confuse, rather than clarify, someone’s perception of their injury. Two injuries that are often misunderstood because of their common names are “golfer’s elbow” and “tennis elbow.” Both injuries are forms of elbow tendonitis, involving weakness in the tendons connecting the forearm muscles to the elbow. Both are caused by overuse and repetitive arm and wrist motions. So, what’s the difference?

While tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are comparable injuries with nearly identical symptoms, there are a few key details that distinguish the two.

Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is a form of tendonitis that affects the tendons connecting the lateral, or outer, forearm muscles to the elbow.  Its distinguishing characteristic is pain that radiates from the outside of the elbow and through the outer forearm. Other symptoms of tennis elbow can include muscle swelling and difficulty raising the hand or straightening the arm. Watch the video below to learn more about this condition and exercises you can try at home to relieve your tennis elbow pain.

Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, affects the tendons that connect the inner forearm muscles to the elbow. Pain from golfer’s elbow is present on the inside of your elbow and arm. Often the pain will radiate down the forearm and into the wrist. To learn more about the common causes, signs, and treatment options for golfer’s elbow, watch the video below.

Avoiding Elbow Tendonitis

Tendonitis injuries like golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are common and easily treatable. However, you’ll want to treat it right away to avoid a more serious injury. If the tendon continues to degenerate without recovery, it can eventually cause a tendon rupture that would require surgery to fix. Try these three tips to help you avoid elbow tendonitis:

  • Fix Your Form: If you’re an athlete, it’s crucial to learn the right techniques to avoid both traumatic and overuse injuries. Even if you’re not an athlete, practicing proper posture and ergonomics can reduce your chances of getting tendonitis.
  • Check Your Equipment: If you’re working out, make sure the equipment you’re using is the right weight and fit. Properly-fitted equipment can help protect you from injuries. Avoid using poorly-fitted equipment or lifting weights that are too heavy or large, as this can not only impact your form but can also lead to muscle imbalances and overuse injuries.
  • Strengthen Your Muscles: Strength training your wrist, arm, and shoulder can help protect your elbow from unwanted injuries, including tendonitis. Performing range of motion exercises can help you get rid of any lingering aches and stiffness after a long day.

Get Rid of Your Elbow Pain Fast!

Although it’s most common in the elbows and shoulders, tendonitis can develop virtually anywhere where tendons connect muscle to bone. It’s important to treat signs of tendonitis as soon as you start noticing symptoms to avoid a more serious injury.

At Airrosti, we can help dramatically speed up your tendonitis recovery and provide long-lasting pain relief from both golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow.  Our providers will take the time needed to accurately diagnose and treat the root cause of your pain, so you can get back to enjoying a pain-free life. Schedule an appointment with us today if you’re struggling with tendonitis symptoms.

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