Elbow Hurt? We Tell You What it Might Be…

So you’ve noticed your elbow hurts. It has you wondering, could this be tennis elbow? A friend mentioned golfer’s elbow, which…is that the same as tennis elbow?! Is there a difference, and what if you don’t play either sport
– can you still have either affliction? We answer these questions, as well as what to do if you suspect that you’re suffering from one of these common overuse injuries.

Unwelcome But Common
Yes, both tennis and golfer’s elbow are real injuries that you can have and while they’re unwelcome, they are both common enough to have earned nicknames after the sports that see them often. Although they’re both named after sports which can certainly lead to these conditions, you can suffer from either tennis or golfer’s elbow even if you’ve never swung a racket or club in your life! Repetitive motions are often the hallmark of any overuse injury; careers like construction workers, assembly line workers, or even your local line cook can all end up with a sore elbow at the end of the day. Summer yard and home improvement projects often cause a period of this tendonitis as well!

The Difference is All About Location
If you’re wondering what the difference is, to the lay-person it’s simply where you feel pain. If it hurts on the inside of your elbow, that is consistent with golfer’s elbow – and if the outside of your elbow is where you feel pain, you’re likely looking at tennis elbow. Specifically, golfer’s elbow is irritation where the tendons attach at the inner bony point of your elbow. Tennis elbow is irritation where forearm tendons attach to the outer bony point of the elbow. Both can cause radiating pain down the arm and weakness.

Causes are Overuse & Possibly Poor Technique
Well, if this doesn’t give you an excuse for lessons, we don’t know what will! Both golfer’s and tennis elbow can possibly be caused by poor swing technique, prolonged gripping, and/or awkward movement patterns. Repetitive movement and frequent stress of the hand, wrist and forearm muscles leads to the condition, but having proper form may just save you time and pain! (Of course, if you end up with either condition from your career, we can’t promise that golf or tennis lessons will do much to reduce your injury risk.)

Treatments Range from At-Home to Professional
Both conditions may respond to at-home treatment such as rest and ice as well as OTC anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. Laying off whatever is causing your pain is always Step One in healing. Another conservative and successful treatment is physical therapy. A PT can evaluate your elbow for pain, range-of-motion, strength, etc and develop a treatment plan designed to reduce discomfort and prevent the return of your golfer’s or tennis elbow. S/he can also make recommendations about proper form for sports and activities to reduce the chances of a relapse.

With four locations serving Central Indiana, you can find the right Body One Physical Therapy branch for you: North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Our skilled providers know all about elbows (and much more!), and have even developed our Golf Performance Program with an eye toward injury prevention. If you find yourself in the bandages and wraps aisle of the drug store, it may be time to call in reinforcements. Call Body One Physical Therapy and schedule your appointment today!