Tennis elbow refers to the “outside” elbow pain of lateral epicondylitis. However, if your “inside” elbow is hurting, you may have GOLFER’s elbow, known medically as medial epicondylitis. Both elbow problems are due to overuse injuries, and rarely do they occur in both arms at the same time.
Tennis elbow is much more common than golfer’s elbow, with tennis elbow having a little over 1% prevalence, and golfer’s elbow only 0.4%. Golfer’s elbow is an overuse of the wrist as it flexes and pronates (turns palm down). Interestingly, tennis players with overly tight grips often end up with “golfer’s elbow”.
The main symptoms of golfer’s elbow are pain on the inside (tender to touch and aches most of the time), worsened pain with resisted flexion and turning the palm downward, and worsened pain with gripping or handshake. The pain starts at the bony bump on your inside elbow and then may radiate downward to your forearm and wrist.
Once again, treatment includes relative rest (stop the repetitive activity that is worsening the problem), anti-inflammatory medications, compression wraps and icing. An ice massage is done by rubbing the ice in a wide circular motion over the painful side of your elbow for about 5 minutes. (Making the ice in a small paper cup will save your fingers from an uncomfortable session- just peel away the top part of the cup and then you have a paper holder.)
Symptoms that do not resolve within a week or two using these basic treatments may require formal physical therapy or steroid injections to fully resolve the problem.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t let overuse injuries of your elbows keep you off the courts or links- start treatment as soon as you begin to notice persistent elbow pain, and avoid developing full blown “tennis” or “golfer’s” elbow.