Golfers or Tennis elbow?

Golfers or Tennis elbow?

Golfers or Tennis elbow?

Golfers and Tennis elbow are two types of elbow pain associated with two different types of sport but you don’t have to be a tennis player to have tennis elbow or a golfer to obtain golfers elbow, actually its more likely for tennis players to get golfers elbow and golfers to get tennis elbow. Both of them are due to injury to the tendons of the forearm which is usually due to repetitive motion, but what is the difference between them, and how can you tell which one you have?

The easiest way to identify the difference between them is the location of the painful area:

Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis and is located on the outside of the forearm, this is where the wrist extensors attach to and can be felt working if you perform a typical STOP gesture with your hand which pulls the knuckles back towards the wrist. The convicted trouble makers are tendons from extensor carpi radialis brevis and extensor digitorum muscles.

Golfers elbow is also known as medial epicondylitis and can be located on the inside of the forearm, this is where the wrist flexors attach and can be felt working if you clench a closed fist. The tendon trouble makers are those that flex the fingers and wrist.

Both conditions will cause pain in the elbow regions which can radiate down the forearm towards the hand, this can be accompanied by pain when grasping, clenching the fist, a dull ache when resting and weakness with lifting or using the elbow.

They are commonly caused by repetitive movements which overuse certain muscles and tendons. ‘Overuse’ is considered to be high-level activity of 30 minutes or more, performed three or more times per week. However, the movements that cause each condition are different.

The movements that are at higher risk of causing golfers elbow are when the wrist is in an extended position (described earlier) with the elbow extended while performing tasks like lifting, gardening, digging and throwing a ball

The movements that are at higher risk of causing tennis elbow are more concerned with impact such as hitting a ball with a bat or a racket while gripping firmly, increased twisting of the wrist, gripping and lifting things and typing on a keyboard. Manual labour jobs are at increased risk of getting tennis elbow due to the demand on the forearm flexor tendons.

The good news is that both conditions are treatable and usually take a matter of weeks with adjusting the demand of the forearms and hands alongside self-care and/or manual therapy. Here are some things you can do to help yourself:

  • Reduce the demand that the tendons and muscles of the forearm is being put through
  • Use of ice and heat therapy, 10 minutes alternating each at a time can be useful or if you find one works better than the other then that’s great.
  • The use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Voltarol or Ibuprofen to reduce any inflammation being caused.
  • The use of specific exercises to strengthen the forearm tendons which can be regressed or progressed depending on the severity.

Unfortunately if the conditions are not treated effectively they are likely to get worse and become chronic so speaking to a professional such as an Osteopath or Physiotherapist can help judge what the best possible action could be.

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Osteopathy works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments, viscera and connective tissues functioning smoothly together Osteopathy takes a holistic, whole-body approach to healthcare.