Tennis and Golfers Elbow
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and golfer’s elbow (epicondylitis) are injuries to the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the elbow. Both injuries are usually the result of repetitive activities that involve the forearm muscles causing strain on the tendons. Over time, tendons can progress from inflammation to partial thickness tears, and finally full thickness tears. However, a patient doesn’t need to be a golfer or tennis player to experience either of these conditions, which can gradually get worse over time. Painters, plumbers, and carpenters or anyone performing repetitive gripping and lifting activities are also prone to both tennis and golfer’s elbow.
- Pain runs from the outside of your elbow down your forearm.
- Tenderness on the outside of your elbow.
- Pain when gripping or twisting something.
- During tennis, it can hurt to grip the racket or hit backhand.
- Pain runs from the inside of your elbow down the inner arm.
- Tenderness on the inside of your elbow.
- Weakness in the wrist or hand.
- Numbness or tingling in your fingers.
- Pain when gripping or twisting things.
- Pain when flexing your wrist.
- Pain when gripping or swinging a golf club.
The technical difference between the two conditions is that Tennis elbow affects the tendons attached to the outside of your elbow, which connect to the muscles that extend your wrist backward and straighten your fingers.
Golfers elbow affects tendons on the inside of your elbow, which are attached to the muscles that flex your wrist and contract your fingers when gripping something.
Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow tend to respond well to conservative treatment. This involves a combination of rest, anti-inflammatories and stretching exercises. However, some cases persist and may require a steroid injection to help with your rehabilitation.
There are some cases which are resistant to treatment. If your symptoms persist and are affecting your day-to-day activities surgery may be an option. The recovery from surgery can be prolonged and take around 8 to 12 weeks.