Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow are similar conditions. And despite their names, they are not only caused by playing tennis or golf. They are overuse injuries caused by repetitive movement.
Golfer’s Elbow - also known as Medial Epicondylitis - is pain that occurs where your tendons attach on the inner (medial) part of the elbow.
Photo from bodyheal.com
Tennis Elbow - also known as Lateral Epicondylitis - affects the tendons attached to the outer (lateral) side of your elbow. Essentially, these tendons become aggravated and inflamed, causing pain.
Signs and Symptoms
Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow have similar signs and symptoms. However, they do slightly differ.
The signs and symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow include:
- Tenderness and pain on the inner side of the elbow. This pain may get worse with certain movements - such as during a golf club swing - and may extend down the inner part of the forearm.
- Elbow stiffness.
- Weakness in your hands or wrists.
- Numbness or tingling. This may occur in one or more fingers - usually the ring and little fingers.
- Tenderness and pain on the outside of the elbow. This pain may radiate down the forearms and wrists. The pain may also feel worse in the morning.
- It may prove difficult to shake hands, or grip or lift an object.
- Soreness in the forearm muscles.
What Causes Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow?
As aforementioned, tennis and golf aren’t the only causes of these 2 conditions. Causes of Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow include:
- Overuse of the forearm muscles.
- Repetitive activities that involve the forearm muscles.
- Repetitive gripping, flexing, swinging and lifting activities such as playing tennis or golf - or weightlifting and rock climbing.
- Professions involving manual work - such as plumbing or construction - are also more likely to develop the condition.
How To Treat Tennis or Golfer's Elbow
Treatment for Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow starts with stopping the activity and resting your elbow. Allowing time for your body to heal - combined with proper treatment - prevents the injury from recurring, as well as prevents the injury from becoming worse.
To reduce the inflammation or ease the pain:
- Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time. Make sure to place a cloth in between your skin and the ice pack. This will prevent skin damage.
Use painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen. However, do not continue use of these medications for longer than 2 weeks. Chronic use can have negative health effects.
Your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend a rehabilitation exercise program to help strengthen the affected area. They may prescribe strengthening and stretching exercises for your forearm and wrist. They will also be able to make recommendations, such as when to return to your regular activities or work.
In some cases, steroid injections are recommended. These injections may temporarily ease the pain and swelling. However, they have limited effects in the long term.
In rare cases, surgery may be recommended. Although, this is often when an individual is not responding to regular treatment. In surgery, the damaged part of the tendon is removed, and the remaining tendon is repaired. Upon gradually returning to your regular activities (at the recommendation of your healthcare provider), use the following precautions:
- Make sure you warm up properly.
- Wear a brace. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you wear a counterforce brace on your affected arm. This can lessen tendon and muscle tension, helping prevent re-injury and aggravation.
- Apply topical anesthetics if need be.
- Ice your arm after the activity - especially if pain occurs or it becomes increasingly more sore.
Cold Therapy Options
Ice reduces pain and decreases inflammation. There are various options for cold therapy. A Reusable Cold/Hot Pack can help you recover from any injury. It is an essential part of any first aid kit. You may also find an Ice compression device more suitable for reducing pain at the elbow as it would stay in place. Some may also choose to use a cold gel such as Biofreeze Gel. This gel offers a cooling sensation and works similar to other cold therapy options.
Braces for Your Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow
Braces can help you return to sport and your regular activities. They provide support and prevent recurrence. The type of brace you require depends on whether your condition is Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow. It also may vary depending on the severity of your condition.
For Tennis Elbow, we recommend the Meuller Tennis Elbow Support brace. For other types of elbow injuries, there is the Meuller Sleeve Elbow and the Meuller Adjustable Elbow Support. The sleeve is particularly useful during physical activity and can provide the support you need to return to your sport or profession. On the other hand, the Meuller Adjustable Elbow Support brace offers additional support for those that need it.
Exercise is a vital part of recovery. Stretching and strengthening movements help stabilize the area and improve flexibility. Further, exercises help prevent recurring injuries - making sure you come back stronger than ever.
There are many ways you can strengthen the forearm and wrist muscles that attach at the elbow. Using light weights for wrist flexion, extension, pronation, and supination movements can strengthen the area around your elbow. The Theraband Flexbar is also a viable option to improve grip strength and reduce re-injury.
Pack And Save
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The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. The indications provided are not a prescription and cannot substitute the recommendation of a health practitioner. We recommend that you seek the advice of your GP, physiotherapist or health practitioner before buying any item on Back To Sport.