Golfers Elbow and Tennis Elbow – What’s The Difference?
When describing pain around the elbow, everyone, surely has to have heard of the terms golfers and tennis elbow!
It’s been a staple diagnosis for years from physiotherapists, GP’s and other medical professionals.
But what’s the difference?
Is there a difference?
NOPE, not really.
They are one and the same thing – except for the part of the elbow in which they affect.
This blog is going to bring you up to date on what these conditions are, their updated names and what you can be doing to help manage them yourself!
What is Tennis / Golfers Elbow?
Tennis elbow refers to pain on the outside of the elbow in the tendons of the Common Extensor Origin. This means – the tendons that operate your wrist extension, supination, grip and typing movements.
Golfers elbow refers to pain on the inside aspect of the elbow in the tendons of the Common Flexor Origin. This means the tendons that operate wrist flexion, pronation and gripping and pulling movements.
The only difference is the location, the problem affects the tendons that attach on to the elbow.
Why Do We Get It?
Tendons of the elbow get painful and weak due to an overload of the tendon tissue. Typically, when someone increases their activity suddenly with a new activity, job or change in their usual workload involving their elbows and wrists.
Good examples are increased desk based work, increased manual work like decorating – or in some cases, injury involving a pulling or gripping movement can cause tendon strain which then develops in to golfers/tennis elbow.
The tendon tissue begins to develop tiny, microscopic tears which cause pain and inflammation – this then leads to dysfunction and inability to perform our tasks in worse cases.
I Have This Problem But I Don’t Play Golf or Tennis?
When this problem was first identified it was commonly linked with the 2 sports they are named after due to the way we grip and hold the club or racket.
Excessive, repetitive playing of these sports can lead to elbow pain, but so can a lot of things.
The more updated, medically accurate name for these problems are known as:
- Medial Epicondylitis (Golfers Elbow) – Referring to the medial epicondyle which is the bony structure where the wrist flexors attach to.
- Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) - Referring to the lateral epicondyle which is the bony structure where the wrist extensors attach to.
But tennis and golfers elbow are nice, easy to pronounce names so that’s why they’ve stuck around!
Self Care - What Can You Do To Manage Elbow Pain?
If you haven’t got elbow pain and don’t want it, which I’m sure you don’t – then what can you do to stop getting it?
Prevention is always the best option!
- Carefully plan any new exercise or sport – start slowly and increase gradually over 6 weeks – this allows time for your elbow to adapt and not become overloaded. Consider for things like weight lifting, golf and tennis!
- Overtime at work? Don’t do too much too soon! Suddenly increasing your work amount, whether that be manual work like construction or desk based work – both can out you at risk.
- Avoid highly repetitive tasks and movements with your wrists and elbow – if you do a lot with your hands and elbow on a daily basis – make sure you gently stretch and mobilise your arms to reduce any chances of overloading the elbows.
If you do have elbow pain…..follow these steps.
- Epiclasps – these straps are elbows that fit around the outside of your elbow, squeeze the affected tensions and help to take load out of the tendon to reduce pain and improve function.
- Pain Relief – simple paracetamol and ibuprofen can make you more comfortable and reduce inflammation in your elbow – this helps you to get on with your day
- Ice / Heat – use of either is recommended. Ice can help to settle inflammation and heat can improve circulation. Use a combination to help improve your symptoms and comfort levels
- Stretching – this will not fix your issue but it can help to regulate pain – gently pull your hand towards you or push it away to stretch your forearm for 15-20 seconds.
- Self-Trigger Pointing – push on to the sore area, hold firmly for 10 seconds, then keep the pressure and increase the hold for another 10 seconds – this should give you a nice pain but also relief afterwards.
Suffering From Tennis Elbow or Golfers Elbow in Newcastle Upon Tyne?
You are in luck. MSK Sports Injury Clinic in Westerhope, Newcastle upon Tyne - are the soft tissue pain experts!
We have dealt with hundreds of cases of tennis and golfers elbow which we have successful results and quick turnaround with your symptoms.
We expertly assess and mutually agree, with you, a treatment and rehab plan that fits your needs.
In clinic we have the option of various soft tissue therapies, acupuncture and state of the art Shockwave Therapy. All of which are effective in reducing pain and improving your function.
Call the clinic today or book online to start your recovery today.
Take a look at our reviews from our happy clients who have had great results!
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