Common Sports Injuries: Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow

It’s no secret that sports requiring repetitive swinging will stress the elbow.


Swinging a club or racquet in poor posture, without proper warmup, or with a sudden increase in duration or intensity are the most common reasons why athletes suffer from tennis and golfer’s elbow.


Tennis and golfer’s elbow are both conditions caused by damage to the tendons.


Other sports where athletes run a higher risk of incurring tennis or golfer’s elbow include baseball, football, racquetball, archery, weightlifting, fencing, and other racquet sports.


If you work a profession that involves repeated elbow movements (such as painters, plumbers, cooks, construction workers, and gardeners), your risk of developing tennis or golfer’s elbow increases.


So, What’s the Difference?


The telltale distinction between golfer’s and tennis elbow is where the pain is located. Pain will be felt on the outside of the elbow with tennis elbow, while it is felt on the inside of the elbow with golfer’s elbow.


Sometimes it is difficult to tell if you have tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or another type of elbow injury. Luckily, some of the symptoms of tennis and golfer’s elbow make them easy to distinguish from other types of elbow injuries, especially if you play a sport that involves bending the elbows.



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Symptoms of Tennis Elbow


Pain and weakness on the outside of the elbow (which sometimes radiates to the wrist) is the dominant symptom of tennis elbow. Other symptoms include:


  • Pain when shaking hands with someone
  • Pain when gripping an object
  • Pain when turning a doorknob
  • Pain when holding an object such as a cup


Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow


Pain in the inside of the elbow (which sometimes radiates to the inner forearm) is the dominant symptom of golfer’s elbow. Other symptoms include:


  • Weakness in the hand or wrist
  • Stiffness, particularly when clenching your fist
  • Numbness or tingling that may radiate into the fingers, especially the ring or pinky fingers


What’s the Best Treatment for Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow?


physical therapist helping a patient strengthen his arm muscles


Treatment for tennis and golfer’s elbow will focus on improving your range of motion, decreasing inflammation, stretching, and strengthening the affected muscles.


Initially, you will want to rest your elbow completely and ice it about once an hour for the first 72 hours of starting treatment. After this period, pain-causing inflammation should have subsided and you can proceed with activities such as gentle stretching, strengthening exercises, and massage or manual therapy.


Healing time will depend on the severity of your injury and lifestyle factors such as age and diet. The easiest and quickest way to heal your injury is to search for a “Sports Injury Specialist in Fort Myers, FL” and visit a top-rated elbow specialist in your area.


Sports physical therapists are experts in elbow injuries and frequently treat golfers and tennis elbow. Some ways that a sports physical therapist will get you back in the game pain-free and ASAP include:


  • Mobility exercises: Golfer’s and tennis elbow are particularly common in athletes who cannot swing properly because of poor mobility. Mobility exercises will increase your joints’ ranges of motion and allow you to swing with greater mobility, stability, and strength.
  • Manual Therapy: The most advanced physical therapists can perform a range of manual therapy techniques to speed up your recovery process. Manual therapy includes special massage techniques such as myofascial release and techniques that mobilize stiff joints.
  • Strengthening Exercises: It’s not always just the elbow area that needs strengthening. Other issues such as weak muscles in the hip or upper back can contribute to incorrect swinging posture. Your sports physical therapist can identify your weakest areas to limit your risk of reinjury once you return to sport.
  • Stretching Exercises: Stiffness often leads to pain, which is why physical therapists know the best stretching exercises to relieve stiffness in your elbow. Stretching your elbow and other stiff areas in your body can help ease pain and support a more fluid swing.
  • Gear Assessment & Taping: Your physical therapist will assess your current gear and sports attire and recommend injury-reducing gear and attire. Certain types of sports bands and compression sleeves can support the elbow and lessen pain. A sports physical therapist knows how to correctly tape the elbow area so that the correct muscles and joints are supported.


How to Return to Sport ASAP


golfer’s celebrating a good put


If you’re looking to return to sport ASAP, it is best to visit a sports physical therapist. Sports physical therapists will save you time by identifying and curing the cause of your tennis or golfer’s elbow.


Our team at Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance is top-rated in Southwest Florida for treating sports-related conditions such as tennis and golfer’s elbow. Click here to make an appointment with one of our skilled sports physical therapists.

About the Author: Harminder

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