What's the Difference Between Tennis Elbow and Golfer's Elbow?

Contrary to their names, the painful conditions known as tennis elbow and golfers elbow are not exclusive to athletes. In actuality, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can impact anyone. Although these two orthopedic conditions are similar, it can be challenging to tell them apart. If you are suffering from elbow pain, One Accord Physical Therapy, with four locations in Arizona, wants you to know which type of injury you have and what you can do to heal. 

What causes golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow? 

Repetitive overuse of your arm, hand, or wrist can gradually cause chronic pain, stiffness, and tenderness to develop in your elbows and forearms. Various activities contribute to both golfers and tennis elbow, including but not limited to:

Golfers elbow

Officially titled medial epicondylitis, golfers elbow involves the inflammation, tearing, or expansion of the tendons nearest to your inner elbow. Golfers elbow causes the most pain when picking up an object or when lifting your arm. 

Tennis elbow

Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow occurs on the outer part of your elbow. Similar to golfers elbow, tennis elbow transpires if the surrounding tendons are inflamed, stretched, or torn. Pain from tennis elbow usually occurs when gripping an object or when moving your arm in a swinging motion, as if you were playing tennis. 

Diagnosis and treatment

To properly diagnose tennis elbow or golfers elbow, you will need to see a doctor or physical therapist. Your medical team may perform a physical examination, or they may order an x-ray or MRI to determine the cause for your pain. 

Upon diagnosis, treatment for golfers elbow or tennis elbow depends entirely on its severity and progression. Best-case scenarios for treatment include non-surgical options, such as:

Pain management

Pain management for tennis elbow or golfers elbow focuses most on easing the associated inflammation and swelling. Pain management methods can include:

Non-surgical options work very well for most individuals suffering from the ill effects of tennis elbow or golfers elbow. At OneAccord Physical Therapy, we offer pain and injury solutions proven to relieve pain and heal the problem at its source without drugs or surgical intervention. However, in rare instances, the use of non-surgical therapies are simply not enough. If your condition shows no marked improvement, your physical therapist may recommend surgical intervention as a last resort. 

Here at OneAccord Physical Therapy, our experienced and dual-credentialled team seeks to enable our patients to lead more fulfilling lives with less pain. If you are coping with debilitating pain from tennis or golfers elbow, don’t suffer alone. Take the first step to a pain-free life and schedule an appointment at our Phoenix, Scottsdale, Casa Grande, Mesa, or Gilbert, Arizona offices. 

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