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Tennis, golf and other activities requiring repetitive motions

By: Angie Austin, LPTA

This time of year is usually allows for more time in folks’ schedules to relax, go on vacation and even pick up hobbies they enjoy such as golf and tennis. Not to be a ‘debbie downer,’ but an increase in this kind of activity also means an increase in patients with elbow injuries. Many people have heard and will use terms like “tennis elbow” and “golfer’s elbow” but what exactly is the difference?

Not much really….Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow are both overuse injuries that are caused by any activity that requires repetitive motion of the arm and wrist. The difference between the two conditions lies in where the elbow is inflamed.

Both of these conditions are forms or epicondylitis, which is a medical term for inflammation of a tendon that attaches to bone (Epicondyle) of the elbow joint. Now tennis elbow will affect the lateral or outside of the elbow and golfer’s elbow will effect the medial or inside of the elbow.

Common symptoms of Tennis Elbow/Lateral Epicondylitis include:

Pain that radiates from the outside of your elbow and down your forearm and wrist Tenderness on the outside of your elbow (May be constant or present with activity) Weakness in your forearm or a weak grip Pain when reaching, lifting or when you grip things, twist something or, if you play tennis, especially with backhand strokes Pain when you extend your wrist

* Repetitive motions using forehand/backhand are also common in cooks, painters, carpenters, plumbers or computer/mouse work. You can also get this from everyday chores such as raking, gardening or chopping wood.

Common symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow/Medial Epicondylitis include:

Pain and tenderness on the inside of your elbow Pain that radiates down your arm from the inside of your elbow Weakness in your hand or wrist Numbness or tingling in your ring and little fingers Pain when you grip or twist things as is common in the golf swing Pain when you flex your wrist

*Examples that cause this problem include shoveling, gardening and repeated lifting. Throwing and weight lifting sports can also lead to problems.

Getting Help/Physical Therapy

Tennis and golfer’s elbow are not generally considered serious and under most conditions can be managed with rest and ice. If left untreated however symptoms can worsen causing more severe pain and weakening of the wrist and forearms causing poor productivity and performance at work and with sports. Physical therapy can aid in reducing pain and quicken recovery through stretching and strengthening exercises. Call our office today at 703-450-4300.

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