What is the Difference between Tennis Elbow and Golf Elbow?
Summer is right around the corner, and anyone who is an avid sportsman knows that early spring and late summer are prime times to play golf and tennis. While this is a great thing and the perfect way to get out in the sun and be active at the same time, late summer is also the season when most people hit their emergency rooms and doctor’s offices with cases of tennis and golf elbow.
However, despite the names of the conditions, golf elbow is not limited to golf players and tennis elbow isn’t limited to tennis players. Both can actually occur for many different reasons, in many different occupations. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two conditions, but rest assured they are different.
In this blog, we will go into the differences between tennis elbow and golf elbow, the signs and the symptoms of both, and even what you can do to take care of both as well. So, without further ado, join us as we delve into our blog on the differences between tennis elbow and golf elbow, and what you can do about both.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, involves the tendons on the outside of the elbow that attaches to the bone.
What is Golf Elbow?
Golf elbow is also a form of elbow tendonitis, but instead involves the tendons that attach the forearm muscle to the bone on the inside part of your elbow. These are minute differences, but they are differences that are important.
What Are the Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?
The pain that comes from tennis elbow can radiate all the way from the outside of your elbow and travel down into your forearm and wrist. These symptoms can make it difficult to do the following things and more.
- Hold onto a coffee cup
- Grip a doorknob securely
- Shake hands firmly
- Grip anything firmly
What Are the Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow?
The symptoms for golfer’s elbow tend to radiate from the muscles attached to the bony bump on your elbow and like tennis elbow can move down into your forearm and wrist. Some symptoms that you have golfer’s elbow are listed below.
- Pain and tenderness usually on the innermost side of your elbow
- Pain that usually gets worse when doing certain movements
- Stiffness where you have problems making a fist and your elbow feels stiff
- A weakness in your hand and wrist
- It is possible to have numbness or tingling sensations in your little and ring fingers
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Many people don’t realize that tennis elbow isn’t only caused by playing tennis. Actually, any repetitive movement that puts stress on the tendons around your elbow can cause the condition. There are a few common causes, however. Those are listed in this section of our blog.
- Tennis and other sports played with rackets
- Machine work
What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?
As with tennis elbow, more than playing golf can cause this condition. Any constant movement that involves repetitive movement of your wrist, hand, or forearm can lead to this condition. A few common causes are listed below as well.
- Other racquet sports
What Are the Risk Factors for Tennis Elbow?
There are a few risk factors that will increase your chances of developing tennis elbow.
- Tennis elbow is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50, though it can strike anyone of any age as well.
- The type of occupation you earn your living doing can be a risk factor as well. Someone who does the same repetitive motion over and over for their job is at greater risk than others. Examples include being a carpenter, butcher, cook, plumber, or even a painter.
- There are certain sports that increase your risk of developing tennis elbow, most commonly racquet sports, especially if your technique is poor.
These aren’t the only risks you can encounter when talking about tennis elbow, but they are the biggest one’s most encounter.
What Are the Risk Factors for Golf Elbow?
As with tennis elbow, there are a few risk factors you should watch out for with golf elbow as well.
- Most people are at a higher risk of developing golf elbow after the age of 40, though it can happen at a younger age as well.
- If you perform a repetitive action for more than two hours every day.
- If you are obese.
- If you are a smoker.
- If you participate in throwing sports, such as being a pitcher in baseball.
- If you participate in weight training.
- Some racquet sports, especially if you’re using a racquet that is too small or too heavy for your frame.
How to Prevent Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow can cause temporary or chronic pain, either way, it limits what you can do in your daily life. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to prevent tennis elbow from happening to you. We will go into a few of those ways in the next section of our blog.
Stay in Shape
One of the best ways to prevent tennis elbow is by keeping your body and your muscles in good shape.
Try not to Overwork Your Elbow
If you were once active in sports and got out of the game for a bit, you want to be extra careful when you’re coming back. Start slowly, so as not to overwork your elbow and end up right back where you were.
Use the Right Equipment
It’s extremely important to use the right equipment for tennis, meaning you don’t want to use a racquet that is too heavy for you or one that is shoddy and not well made. Any equipment you use should be tailored to your strength and personal ability.
Stop if You Feel Pain
While it may be tempting to just ignore the pain hoping it will go away on its own, it won’t. If your elbow and arm start hurting, don’t try to finish your match or keeping doing what you’re doing. That is the quickest way to make a bad situation much worse.
How to Prevent Golf Elbow
First of all, it’s important to note that there is no foolproof way to prevent golf elbow. However, there are a few things you can try to make developing the condition less likely.
Stretch Before Playing Golf
One of the best ways to prevent golf elbow from occurring, to begin with, is by stretching. Many golfers don’t feel they should have to stretch before playing. However, golf is a sport just like any other, so stretching prepares your body for the strain ahead.
Use the Equipment that is Right for You
As with tennis, you need to use the equipment that is right for you. For example, don’t use old irons and choose graphite clubs that are light.
Lifting things properly is key to avoiding everything from golf elbow to pulled muscles. Keep your wrist stable, so that you can reduce the strain on your elbow.
Rest When Needed
As with any other type of sport, you don’t need to overdo it. Rest when needed and don’t push yourself to finish something if your arm and elbow are hurting. You have more of a chance of completing your task if you rest, instead of trying to push through.
Treatment Options for Both
In most cases, both tennis and golf elbow can be treated easily. However, if you let it go or it gets too severe, you may need to see a doctor instead. A few methods for treating both of these conditions are listed below, along with methods to seek out if the condition worsens.
Depending on how severe the pain is, icing the affected area can reduce the pain.
Medicines such as ibuprofen are recommended to take down the swelling that results with these conditions.
- Stretching exercises
- Physical therapy
- Blood-spinning therapy
- Cortisone injections
Surgery, of course, is going to be the last option you want to try in order to cure your tennis or golf elbow. If you feel that your condition is worsening, it is best to contact your primary health care provider as soon as possible for an appointment. He can help you determine the best options for treating your condition before it gets to the point where you have to have surgery to correct it.
This concludes our blog on the differences between tennis elbow and golf elbow. Remember, the best thing to do is to contact your doctor and rest the affected joint for a full recovery. Never, decide that it’s okay to ignore the signs and symptoms of either of these conditions, or you might end up regretting it in the long run.
NY Orthopedics: Tennis Elbow VS Golf Elbow: The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
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Mayo Clinic: Golfers Elbow