With South Florida’s prime year-long sunny weather perfect for golf and tennis activities, athletes are at high risk of developing two common sport injuries. Whether you play for fun or competitively, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can take a toll on your court and course game. Both tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, and golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, are injuries that can become serious if not treated and identified correctly.

What’s the difference?

While both these injuries are commonly heard of, not many people are familiar with the different components that set these injuries apart. Tennis elbow affects the tendons that are attached to the outer side of the elbow and to the muscles that extend the wrist backward and straighten the fingers. However, Golfer’s elbow affects the inner tendons that are connected to the elbow that help muscles flex the wrist and contract fingers in a grip-like formation.

The Causes

Despite their differences, both injuries are commonly the result of repetitive strain on the tendons. It’s important to keep in mind, that you do NOT have to be a golfer or tennis player to experience these injuries. The repetition of forceful motions can result in the conditions. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow start gradually and worsen over time.

Common symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain that radiates from the outside of your elbow and down your forearm
  • Tenderness on the outside of elbow
  • Weakness in forearm or weak grip
  • Pain when gripping and twisting something or, if you play tennis, especially with backhand strokes

Common symptoms of golfer’s elbow:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inside of elbow
  • Pain that radiates down arm from the inside of elbow
  • Weakness in hand or wrist
  • Numbness or tingling in ring finger
  • Pain when gripping or twisting things
  • Pain when flexing wrist

Treatments

While these injuries might seem severe, both tennis and golfer’s elbow can be treated with conservative measures. Before surgery is recommended to patients, treatment to reduce the strain on the tendons is highly encouraged. Resting the affected arm, using a brace, and correcting improper technique of play are all treatments that will reduce the pain and recurrence of the injury. If these measures fail to heal, surgery is performed.

  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Cortisone injections
  • Surgery

Think you’re at risk of, or currently have either tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow? Talk to one of our specialists today. 

Our highly trained and specialized orthopedic team have been serving the Palm Beach County area for 65 years. We’d be happy to serve you, too. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. You can call OCPBC at 561-967-6500 or visit our website.