Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis elbow is when tendons on the lateral side of the elbow are inflamed. Golfer’s elbow is when tendons on the medial side of the elbow joint are inflamed.

What is Tennis elbow?

Definition:

Tennis elbow is when tendon fibers attaching at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus bone, become inflamed. Tendons are connective tissue that connect muscles to bone.

Causes:

The condition is usually caused from repetition and overuse of the forearm either due to playing sports or from an occupation in which the arm is overused. Occupations that can also cause overuse of the tendons and muscles of the arm include: plumbing, using a computer mouse, driving screws, or cutting up meat. 

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is a by a physical exam and noting that the individual has pain when extending the wrist. Pain is felt on the side of the forearm at the elbow joint. This can be confused with Golfer’s elbow but the location of the pain and when it occurs is significant. The problem is most frequently seen in people between 30 and 50 years of age.

Symptoms:

Pain is felt in the forearm and on the lateral side of the elbow. The pain happens when the person extends the wrist or turn the hand so the palm is face downward (pronated).

Treatment:

Treatment for the pain includes taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help decrease the inflammation. The elbow and arm also need to be rested; ice can also be used to help with the condition.

What is Golfer’s elbow?

Definition:

Golfer’s elbow is an inflammation of the of tendons of the muscles that attach to the medial epicondyle at the elbow joint. 

Causes:

This condition is caused by the overuse of certain muscles of the forearm. Golfer’s elbow can happen from the flexing of the forearm while playing a sport like hitting a golf ball, pitching, or hitting a tennis ball. It can be due to an athlete using the wrong technique in how they strike a ball. It can occur in people who lift weights if they use the wrong method. Occupations such as carpentry and plumbing can lead to Golfer’s elbow.

Diagnosis:

The condition is diagnosed by a physical exam in which pain is noticed in the medial epicondyle region when the wrist is flexed. An X-ray may be done to exclude other causes such as fracture or arthritis. The condition is more common in people 40 and older.

Symptoms:

Pain is the symptom. This is pain that the person feels on the medial side of the forearm at the elbow joint where the medial epicondyle of the humerus is located. Pain is also felt when the wrist is flexed. Weakness in the wrist and tingling of the hands and fingers can also occur. Numbness and tingling are common in the ring finger and little finger.

Treatment:

Pain can be helped by using NSAIDs and placing ice on the affected area at various time intervals during the day. Sometimes wearing an elbow brace can help to decrease the strain on the muscle. In extreme cases where tendons are torn, surgery may be needed.

Difference between Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow

Definition

Tennis elbow is when the tendons attaching at the lateral side of the elbow become inflamed. Golfer’s elbow is when the tendons attaching at the middle part of the elbow become inflamed

Medical term 

The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. The medical term for golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis.

Age of occurrence

Tennis elbow is most often seen in adults between 30 and 50 years of age. Golfer’s elbow is most often diagnosed in people ages 40 and older.

Symptoms

A common symptom of tennis elbow is pain when a person extends their wrist. A symptom of golfer’s elbow is pain when a person flexes their wrist.

Causes

Playing tennis or other racket sports, as well as having occupations such as plumbing, are causes of tennis elbow. Playing tennis or golf, pitching in softball or baseball, and lifting weights, in addition to occupations such as carpentry and plumbing, are causes of golfer’s elbow.

Table comparing Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow

Summary of Tennis elbow Vs. Golfer’s elbow

  • Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbows are both painful conditions related to tendons at the elbow joint.
  • Tennis elbow involves the tendon attached to the lateral epicondyle.
  • Golfer’s elbow involves the tendon that attaches to the medial epicondyle.
  • Both conditions can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications.

FAQ

What is the best treatment for golfer’s elbow?

Rest and using a brace for the elbow can be helpful. Applying ice packs about 4 times a day for 15 minutes each time can help with the inflammation and pain.

Can you have tennis and golfer’s elbow at the same time?

Yes, it is possible to have both tennis and golfer’s elbow simultaneously. Certain activities like tennis or rock climbing can put enough strain on the arm and elbow region to cause both conditions to happen at the same time.

Will golfers elbow go away on its own?

Yes, with rest, using a brace, and using ice, the problem does often resolve without further intervention needed.

What can be mistaken for golfers elbow?

Tennis elbow can be confused with golfers elbow since both involve an inflammation of the tendons near the elbow joint.


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References :


[0]Kiel, John, and Kimberly Kaiser. "Golfers elbow." StatPearls [Internet] (2021).

[1]Liebert, Paul L. “Lateral epicondylitis”. Merck Manual, 2020, https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/sports-injury/lateral-epicondylitis

[2]Liebert, Paul L. “Medial epicondylitis”. Merck Manual, 2020, https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/sports-injury/medial-epicondylitis

[3]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Golfers-Elbow_SAG.jpg

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tennis_Elbow.png

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