Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer's Elbow

Injuries occur whenever an area of the body is overwhelmed. Muscles, tendons, and joints are designed to absorb certain amounts of stress and strain. Using these muscles and tendons strengthens them, so that they can absorb more stress. Training and exercise enhances these adaptations so that we can do more activity with less risk of injury.

Any overuse can produce pain, inflammation, and injury. Tennis elbow and golfers elbow are two common elbow injuries. They both occur when the muscles and tendons are placed under more stress than they can handle. Swinging a tennis racket places extra stress on the extensor muscles of the forearm. Gripping a club too hard or grounding the club places excessive stress on the wrist flexors.

Video: Medial Epicondylitis & Lateral Epicondylitis

Each specific activity uses muscles in a unique way. Squeezing a racket, backhands, wrist movements, and slowing the racquet after a swing place unique stress to the wrist extensors. If you played 4 games a day, your body would adapt to playing 4 games a day. However, if you played 10 games the muscles and tendons may not be ready for it.

People experience elbow tendon injuries from participating in a common activity more than usual, such as a tournament setting. It also develops from performing an activity that you are not used to doing, such as using a screwdriver 30 times to build a bookcase. Each activity uses the wrist extensors and has the potential for developing an injury.

Tendonosis or tendonitis on the outside of the elbow is called lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. Injuries on the inside of the elbow are called medial epicondylitis or golfers elbow. Treatment is not the same for all elbow injuries. Specific treatments are needed for the specific muscles and tendons involved.

A tennis elbow brace would not provide the same level of support or help with a person with medial epicondylitis. Treatment principles are similar because they involve decreasing the pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms. The exercises and stretches are designed to help the specific injury. Exercise, recreational, and work activity recommendations are different for lateral and medial epicondylitis.

Correctly identifying the injury is important in recovery. If your hands are at your side and palms facing forward, the part of your elbow next to your hips is the medial epicondyle. The epicondyle further from your truck is the lateral epicondyle.

More information and treatment specifics for inside elbow pain can be found at Medial Epicondylitis Treatments.

Treatment information for pain on the outside of the elbow can be found at Lateral Epicondylitis Treatments.