Keeping Your Elbow in the Game: Golfers vs. Tennis Elbow

Health Articles

Jan 25, 2024


If you’re an avid golfer or tennis player, you know that elbow injuries can take you off the course or court. Two common overuse injuries, medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), often get mistaken for one another even though they affect different elbow parts. Learn to distinguish these two conditions from your experts at Tidewater Orthopaedics so you can get back swinging or serving pain-free.  

What’s the Difference in Location?

Golfer’s and Tennis Elbows get their distinct names from the location of pain around the elbow joint.

Golfer’s elbow causes pain and soreness focused on the inner side of the elbow as the flexor and pronator forearm tendons become inflamed. While golfing, repetitive wrist flexion and forearm rotation strain the tendon attachments at the medial epicondyle.  

In contrast, Tennis Elbow involves inflammation along the lateral epicondyle, an outer bony knob of the elbow. Pain centers around tendons of extensor muscles that raise the wrist and hand. The repetitive backhand swing in tennis aggravates the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon and connecting tissue originating laterally.

What Motions Can Lead to These Tendinopathies?

It’s not just golf and tennis swings that can cause painful elbow inflammation. Any sports or activities with repetitive wrist flexing/rotating or gripping/extending raise injury risk. Additional golfer’s elbow culprits include racket sports, weightlifting, and baseball pitching. Tennis elbow associations include rock climbing, shoveling, painting, and keyboarding. Proper training plus rest days allows tendons time to recover between bouts of strain.  

What Can Provide Relief?

Ice and rest are key for the first signs of medial or lateral elbow pain before severe tendinopathy sets in. Anti-inflammatory medication, elbow braces, and physical therapy can also aid recovery and activity modification. For persistent elbow cases that fail to improve with other conservative treatments, we offer in-office injections to reduce inflammation or minor outpatient procedures to repair overused tendons. These options aim to resolve those nagging inner or outer elbow pains for good.

Contact us at Tidewater Orthopaedics for a complete elbow assessment and treatment tailored to your needs. We’ll get those tendons toned and ready to power your best club swings or tennis strokes again!

Do you or someone need quality orthopaedic care? Contact us by calling 757-827-2480 or click the button Book Appointment Now

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