Tennis Elbow vs Golf Elbow: What is the Difference?

Tennis Elbow vs Golf Elbow: What is the Difference?

Tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow can still be responsible for the slight or severe pain in your hand even though you don’t constantly hit the court or lift heavy objects. Both medical conditions are caused by continuously stressing the muscles in the elbow, thereby causing a micro tear in the tendons. 

These conditions are not peculiar to just sportsmen as a simple daily task such as typing or lifting a jar can cause golfers or tennis elbow.

People often confuse these conditions to be the same. Well, that’s quite understandable as both conditions involve pain around the forearm, wrist, and elbow. 

However, the Tennis elbow and the golfer’s elbow have different health conditions. To clear up the confusion around Tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, let’s discuss the causes, differences, treatment options, and preventive measures for each of these injuries.

What is a Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is one of the two types of elbow tendonitis that causes discomfort outside the elbow. Tennis elbow results from repeated use of the muscles in the forearm, leading to inflammation outside of the elbow. Some occupations involving repetitive elbows such as carpentry and plumbing are prone to this injury. 

Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain or a burning sensation when straightening the elbow, weak grip, and tenderness. People between the ages of 30-50 are prone to this type of injury.

What is a Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow is also known as medial epicondylitis because an injury results in inflammation or tearing of the tendon around the elbow. 

Golfer’s elbow is an irritation to the inner section of the elbow. The tendon attached to the medial epicondylitis aids mobility of the muscles responsible for gripping and wrist rotation. 

Common symptoms of a golfer’s elbow include stiffness, aches, numbness, and tenderness. People above the age of 40 are prone to golfers’ elbows.

Causes of Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis and golfers’ elbows are caused by repetitively stressing the flexor muscle of the forearm. Despite their descriptive names, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can occur from engaging in any form of activity. Some of the common causes of tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are:

  • Racket sports: incorrect techniques while using a racquet can lead to tearing of the tendon.
  • Occupations such as plumbing, carpentry, and painting can overload the muscles and lead to the tear of the tendons.
  • Activities of daily life such as typing, gardening, cutting, etc

Differences Between Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow have vital differences outlined below


Inflammation of the tendon linked to the tennis elbow develops outside the forearm and elbow areas, while irritation associated with the golfer’s elbow develops inside the arm and elbow.

Affected tendon 

Tennis elbow causes discomfort due to damages to the external tendons attached to the muscles of the forearms. In contrast, golfers’ elbow causes pain due to injuries to the anterior tendons of the forearm and elbow.

Treatment for Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow qualify as degenerative conditions, which means that the injury can deteriorate if left untreated. It might be time to visit your doctor if you notice difficulties in completing simple tasks such as brushing your teeth or turning a doorknob. 

Your doctor can recommend several less invasive procedures such as the ones discussed below to prevent further damages.

  • Rest: avoid or engage less in activities that can cause a recurrence of the injury.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: buying anti-inflammatory drugs from a local store can help reduce or manage the pain caused by tennis elbow and golfers’ elbow.
  • Massage: muscle stimulation techniques such as massage and pulse ultrasound help increase blood flow in the body, thereby stimulating a quicker healing process.
  • Physical therapy: physical therapy helps decrease stiffness and promote a flexible range of motion to minimize the pressure exerted on the tendon and manage pain. 
  • Surgery: an extreme tennis elbow or golfer elbow case might require surgery when other conservative options fail. The techniques used might be dry needle Cortisone injection or elbow surgery to repair the damaged tendon. 

How to Prevent Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are easily treatable. However, this condition can also be avoided by following these proactive measures.

Most of all, limit activities requiring repetitive use of the elbows and arms. You cannot avoid all activities, but you can protect your tendons with proper care and precaution.

Always massage and warm up your muscles lightly before engaging in physical activities. This simple procedure helps make the tendon flexible.

Endeavour to employ the correct techniques during sporting activities to reduce the pressure exerted on the elbows tendon.

Incorporate different activities into your schedule that require less of your elbow and arm. Doing so helps to give your arm a break while engaging in other activities.


If your pain persists and interrupts the flow of daily activities after using all conventional approaches, then book an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor might recommend other treatment options.