Elbow pain can be a real nuisance, affecting our daily activities and overall quality of life. Two of the most common culprits behind this discomfort are conditions known as tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. Despite their names, these conditions aren’t exclusive to athletes. In fact, the majority of people who suffer from tennis or golfer’s elbow don’t play tennis or golf at all. Let’s dive into what causes these conditions, how they differ, their symptoms, and how they can be treated.

Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow: Common Causes and Differences

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis):
  • Causes: Tennis elbow typically results from repetitive motions and overuse of the forearm muscles. Activities such as painting, using hand tools, or even typing can contribute to this condition.
  • Location: The pain is usually located on the outer part of the elbow.
  • Symptoms: It manifests as pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow, which can radiate down the forearm and sometimes into the wrist. You might feel a weak grip or pain when lifting objects, especially if the elbow is straight.
Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis):
  • Causes: Similar to tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow is also caused by repetitive motion and overuse, but it affects the muscles on the inside of the elbow. Activities that involve repetitive wrist flexion or forearm rotation, such as hammering or chopping wood, are common triggers.
  • Location: The pain is typically felt on the inner side of the elbow.
  • Symptoms: Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow are characteristic, and this pain may radiate down the inner side of the forearm. You might also experience weakness in your hand and wrist.

Signs, Symptoms, and Prognosis

Both conditions share some common signs, including pain, tenderness, and sometimes swelling around the affected area. However, the location of the pain is a distinguishing factor—outside of the elbow for tennis elbow and inside for golfer’s elbow.

The prognosis for both conditions is generally good, though recovery can take several months. Most people recover fully with appropriate treatment and lifestyle modifications.


Seeking Medical Attention

If you’re experiencing persistent elbow pain, it’s important to seek medical attention from a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can guide you through a personalized recovery process, employing a variety of strategies:

  • Activity Modification: They can advise you on activities to temporarily avoid to prevent further strain on the elbow. This might include taking a break from repetitive tasks or adjusting your technique in daily activities.
  • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Specific exercises can help to strengthen the muscles around the elbow, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. A physiotherapist will tailor a program to your needs, ensuring you perform the exercises correctly.
  • Manual Therapy: This includes techniques such as stretching, soft tissue and joint mobilization, and manipulation.
  • Modalities: Treatments like ultrasound therapy can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Strapping or bracing options may provide additional support and alleviate strain on the elbow.
  • Ergonomic Assessment: Reviewing the equipment and techniques you use at work or in recreational activities can help identify contributing factors. Adjustments to your workspace or sports equipment can make a significant difference.

Reassurance and Recovery

It’s reassuring to know that with the right treatment and care, elbow pain from tennis or golfer’s elbow can improve significantly. Recovery takes time, but creating the best environment for healing is crucial. By following professional guidance and making necessary adjustments, you can prevent the recovery process from taking longer than it should.

Remember, the journey to recovery is a process. Be patient with yourself and stay consistent with your treatment plan. With the support of a skilled physiotherapist, you can look forward to a pain-free and active lifestyle once again.

If you live in Saskatchewan feel free to contact us at North 49 and book an appointment with one of our team physiotherapists who can help you along in your recovery journey. You can call the clinic at 306-343-7776 or book an Initial Assessment online through our booking platform.