What is the difference between tennis elbow and golfers elbow? This is a common question we encounter in our clinic and the answer is quite simple. It actually has nothing to do with either of those sports really; it is more based on anatomical location.
Location of Pain in Golfers and Tennis Elbow
Golfers can have tennis elbow and tennis players can have golfers elbow. The primary difference is that one affects the outside of your elbow and the other affects the inside of your elbow. Active Release Technique is a very effective way of treating both of these injuries. The following blog will help teach you a little more about tennis and golfers elbow and the different ways to treat these injuries.
The term “golfers elbow” is actually a slang term given to a common overuse injury. The bone that “sticks out” on the inside of your elbow (the side closest to your body) is called the medial epicondyle. This boney area serves as a tendon attachment for our wrist and finger flexor muscles. When we use our hands too much with activities like gripping, pinching and flexing our wrist and fingers (as in golf) the wrist and finger flexor muscles located in our forearms can become overused. Also called a repetitive strain injury, the tissue responds to this unreasonable demand by degenerating and changing its texture.
Symptoms of Golfers Elbow
The pain can be located in the forearm, but it quite often localizes to the boney insertion on the inside of your elbow. This is what many people call golfers elbow. The more current, technical term for golfers elbow is a tendinosis or tendinopathy of the wrist and finger flexors in the forearm (elbow tendinitis).
The term “tennis elbow” is also a slang term. It is very similar to golfers elbow, only this condition affects the bone and tendons on the other side of your elbow and forearm. The bone that you can feel on the lateral or “thumb side” of your elbow when your palm is facing upward is called the lateral epicondyle. This boney area serves as a tendon attachment for our wrist and finger extensor muscles. When we use our hands too much with activities like gripping, pinching and extending our wrist and fingers (as in tennis) the wrist and finger extensor muscles located on the back of our forearms can become overused.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The same as golfers elbow, tennis elbow is called a repetitive strain injury. The extensor tissues respond to the unreasonable demand placed on them by degenerating and changing their texture. The pain can be located in the back of the forearm, but quite often localizes to the boney insertion on the outside or lateral side of your elbow. This is what many people call tennis elbow. The more current, technical term for tennis elbow is a tendinosis or tendinopathy of the wrist and finger extensors in the forearm.
Treatment for Elbow Pain
So how do you fix golfers elbow or tennis elbow? At our clinic, we use Active Release and Graston Technique as a method of returning the tissue to a more normal texture. Laser therapy is also used to assist in replenishing the area with healthier cells. This is very different from how we may have treated this injury in the past. In the past, these conditions were believed to be inflammatory injuries. We called them medial epicondylitis (for golfers elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (for tennis elbow) since we thought that the boney insertion point was inflamed. This has since been discovered to be inaccurate and is why the terminology and recommended treatment approach for these injuries have changed over the years.
For more information please email us – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bunata RE, Brown DS, Capelo R. Anatomic factors related to the cause of tennis elbow. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 2007; 89: 1955-1963.
Cook JL, Khan KM, Maffulli N, Purdam C. Overuse tendinosis not tendonitis: part 2: applying the new approach to patellar tendinopathy. The Physician and SportsMedicine 2000; 28(6).
De Smedt T, de Jong A, Van Leemput WV et al. Lateral epicondylitis in tennis: update on etiology, biomechanics and treatment. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2007; 41: 816-819.
Khan KM, Cook JL, Kannus P, Maffulli N, Bonar SF. Time to abandon the “tendonitis” myth. British Medical Journal 2002; 324: 626-627.
Khan KM, Cook JL, Taunton, J, Bonar F. Overuse tendinosis, not tendonitis: part 1: a new paradigm for a difficult clinical problem. The Physician and Sports Medicine 2000; 28 (5).
Kraushaar, B., Nirschl RP. Current concepts review – tendinosis of the elbow (tennis elbow) clinical features and findings of histological, immunohistochemical, and electron microscopy studies. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1999; 81: 259-278.