Repetitive movements of the arm or wrist can cause overuse injuries which may become painful and debilitating. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are similar but they cause pain in a different part of the elbow. You don’t have to play tennis or golf to develop these conditions – both of which are a form of epicondylitis (or inflammation of tendons that attach to the elbow) – although people who participate in these sports may be particularly at risk.
What is tennis/golfers elbow?
Tennis elbow affects the lateral epicondyle, causing pain on the outside of the elbow particularly when gripping or lifting. It is due to overuse of the outside of the elbow and forearm.
Golfer’s elbow affects the medial epicondyle, which causes pain on the inside of the elbow. It is the result of activities that require repeated use of the forearm muscles, such as twisting and flexing the wrist or lifting with the elbow extended and palm facing down.
Who is at risk of tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow?
Tennis elbow most commonly affects adults between 30 and 50. It can be linked to certain types of work, such as plumbing, painting and decorating, and carpentry. Some sports, including tennis and squash, as well as lifting weight in the gym, may also cause the condition, and even activities like gardening or chopping wood.
Golfer’s elbow is often due to repeated lifting. While it can affect golfers, tennis players may also be affected and people whose job involves using the muscles of the forearm repeatedly, including carpenters.
Both conditions can be painful and may result in weakness or stiffness in the elbow or wrist. Tennis elbow causes pain in the outside of the elbow which may radiate to the forearm and wrist. You may experience it as a constant ache or a pain that develops when you perform certain movements, such as lifting, grasping or reaching. If you are suffering from golfer’s elbow, the pain will be felt on the inside of the elbow, particularly when you twist your forearm, make a fist or lift your hand.
What to do if you have tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow?
Resting the affected elbow and wrist is important to avoid exacerbating the symptoms. An ice pack may help to reduce any swelling and you can take anti-inflammatories for the pain. If symptoms persist, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis so you know what is causing them. You may need to wear an elbow brace for a short while to relieve pressure on the injured area. A physiotherapist may be able to suggest exercises that you can do to gradually stretch and strengthen the muscles in your forearm. We highly recommend ultrasound guided injections of corticosteroids or platelet rich plasma (PRP) as an effective way of treating both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
What are PRP injections?
While steroid injections are a proven way to relieve the pain of tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, the results are relatively short-term and you may need further injections if the symptoms persist. Platelet rich plasma injections use the body’s own natural healing processes to repair damaged tissues. The procedure works by extracting platelets from a sample of your own blood which is spun very fast in a centrifuge to separate it out into its component parts (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet rich plasma). Platelets promote blood clotting and wound healing and within the platelet rich plasma are proteins called growth factors which help the tendons to heal. Platelet rich plasma taken from your own blood sample is injected into your damaged tendon to promote healing and to relieve pain.
How effective is it for tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow?
PRP injections are a relatively new treatment however studies dating back to 2013 support the use of this approach to treat chronic pain caused by tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. The treatment is safe with very few side effectives and positive outcomes. While steroid injections are also effective, PRP injections may produce better outcomes in the long term.
If you have suffered a sporting injury, whether due to an accident or as a result of long-term damage, contact W27 for specialist advice and diagnosis.
SPORTS INJURY TREATMENT | MANCHESTER, LONDON, CHESHIRE + MORE
W27 provides fast, accurate diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal symptoms and conditions using the latest state-of-the-art imaging facilities.
For your appointment there is a choice of locations:
The OrthTeam Centre Ohm Building – 168 Barlow Moor Road, Manchester, M20 2AF
Euxton Hall Hospital – Wigan Road, Euxton, Chorley, PR7 6DY
MedSerena Upright MRI Centre Manchester – 26-28 The Boulevard, Manchester, M20 2EU
The John Charnley Wing, Wrightington Hospital – Hall Lane, Appley Bridge, Wigan, WN6 9EP
The Spire Manchester – 170 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2AF
MedSerena Upright MRI Centre London – 114a Cromwell Road, Kensington, London, SW7 4ES
HCA The Wilmslow Hospital – 52 Alderley Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 1NY
Information about our Fees can be found here.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your options with a specialist, please contact the team to book an initial consultation.