Is my elbow pain golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow?

Pain in your elbow. Difficulty grasping or releasing objects. Inflammation or swelling around the elbow. These are all signs that you have one of two elbow problems: either golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow. 

These conditions are so similar that it can be tough to tell them apart. However, physical therapists are experts in the musculoskeletal system, and they can reveal differences between these two elbow injuries. This will allow them to determine which injury you’re suffering from.

What differences between golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow do physical therapists look for?

Golfer’s elbow is known to medical professionals as medial epicondylitis. The official name of tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. So they even share part of their names with one another. 

In spite of their many similarities, there are three distinct differences between these two elbow injuries. These differences are what a physical therapist will look for to correctly diagnose your condition. They include: 

  1. Pain location — Both of these elbow injuries cause pain in and around the elbow. However, the location of the pain is different for each condition. People with medial epicondylitis feel pain on the inside of their elbow. Those with lateral epicondylitis feel it on the outside of their elbow. 
  1. Inflammation location — Inflammation and swelling can also occur with each of these injuries. Like the pain they cause, the location of the inflammation and swelling are in different places. Medial epicondylitis leads to inflammation and swelling on the inside of the elbow, while they appear on the outside of the elbow with lateral epicondylitis.
  1. Tendon affected — Each of these forms of elbow tendinitis affects a different tendon in the elbow. The medial epicondyle tendon (MET) is the one affected by medial epicondylitis. As you might suspect, the lateral epicondyle tendon (LET) is affected when you have lateral epicondylitis. 

Your physical therapist can tell which tendon is affected by using a simple test. They’ll ask you to pick something up. If you feel discomfort when closing your fingers around the object, your physical therapist will know the MET is affected. Likewise, your physical therapist will know that the LET is affected if you feel discomfort when opening your fingers to let the object go. 

How can physical therapy treat your golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow?

After determining which elbow injury you have, your physical therapist will build you an individualized therapy plan to treat it. Some of the therapy methods your plan could include are: 

Find effective golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow care at Back in Motion

At Back in Motion, our physical therapy specialists are committed to helping you find the most effective treatment for your elbow condition. We offer comprehensive evaluations intended to reveal the injury you have and underlying issues that contributed to it. Additionally, our physical therapists are adept at building personalized therapy plans. These plans are designed to reduce your symptoms and prevent similar injuries in the future. 

Contact us today for more information about our elbow injury treatment options or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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