Tennis and Golfer's Elbow

Tennis elbow has nothing to do with playing tennis. Also called lateral epicondylitis, it is characterised by a gradual onset of aching pain, tenderness and pain on gripping at a point on the outside of the elbow. The lateral epicondyle is the small bony point you can feel on the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow produces maximum tenderness at a point just in front of the lateral epicondyle.

It is thought to occur as a result of microtrauma and wear and tear at the point where the muscles attach to bone. The attempts by the body to repair this process result in local inflammation, pain and tenderness.

Tennis elbow usually resolves in time but can take years to do so. As a result, people who have significant symptoms from their tennis elbow may ask for help and treatment.

Treatment of tennis elbow will begin with advice to modify the painful activities and rest the arm. Physiotherapy is often helpful, as is the wearing of a tight pressure band over the painful area (called an epicondylar clasp). If these measures fail to produce relief, injection of steroid (cortisone) into the painful area can produce dramatic results. A newer technique of dry needling (where a needle is inserted into the inflamed area several times) is also thought to be effective in relieving some people's symptoms without the need for steroid. There are only a few people who fail to get relief from these treatments. These resistant cases will be offered surgery to freshen up the muscle's area of attachment and reattach the muscle to bone. The elbow is partially immobilised for about 3 weeks after such surgery, restricting abilities to work &/or drive. Further information on tennis elbow can be found using this link: Tennis elbow

Golfer's elbow has nothing to do with playing golf. It is a similar, but rarer, condition to tennis elbow, only golfer's elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow.

Characterised by a gradual onset of ache, pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow, golfer's elbow (also called medial epicondylitis) is usually found in people aged between 30 and 55 years. The medial epicondyle is the small hard bony point just beside the 'funny bone' area on the inside of the elbow. The tenderness in golfer's elbow is felt just in front of this point. Sometimes, golfer's elbow is accompanied by tingling in the little and ring fingers of the hand (see cubital tunnel syndrome) because the nerve to this part of the hand (the ulnar nerve) passes around the medial epicondyle and close to the area of inflammation.

Golfer's elbow will usually get better on its own but, much like tennis elbow, this process can take years. Consequently, treatment will be offered to those people troubled by their symptoms.

Treatments for golfer's elbow are identical to those offered for tennis elbow, except the location of the treatment is on the inside of the elbow (the medial epicondyle area), not the outside of the elbow (the lateral epicondyle area).

You can read more about golfer's elbow here: golfer's elbow