Golfer’s Elbow vs Tennis Elbow: What’s The Difference?

Elbow pain can ring throughout your body, making you recoil from the discomfort. Whether you hit it against a wall by accident or the pain is because of overuse, it can turn into an everyday hurdle. However, in more extreme cases, it is necessary to get proper treatment for the condition. Usually, the pain is associated with either a golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow. You need to first identify the cause of the pain before seeking the proper treatment for it. But considering the two are similar conditions, it can be difficult to differentiate them. In this blog, we will break down the two and explain their symptoms as well as treatments.

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What is a Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that affects the inner side of the elbow. Despite its name, you don’t have to be a professional golfer for the pain to arise, as it typically occurs due to repetitive stress on the wrist and forearm. This ultimately inflames the tendons in your inner elbow, leading to intense pain. Plus, the more you move your arm, the worse the pain gets, which is why it is necessary to give your forearm the rest it needs.

Common Symptoms

Here are some signs to identify a golfer’s elbow:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow
  • Weakness in forearm
  • Stiffness in arm
  • Discomfort when trying to flex the wrist
  • Tingling sensation down the arm

Treatment Options for Golfer’s Elbow

In order to treat a golfer’s elbow, you have to get your elbow physically examined by a medical professional. Your doctor might recommend getting imaging tests and other exams depending on the severity of the condition. Treatment often involves the RICE method and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, physical therapy might also work to strengthen the forearm muscles and alleviate the pain.

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What is a Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an elbow-related condition that affects the outer side of the elbow. It is usually triggered by repetitive arm motion, especially the forearm and wrist. Whether you’re an office worker, carpenter, painter, or construction worker, tennis elbow can affect you at any time. 

Common Symptoms

You can tell if you have a tennis elbow by looking at the signs mentioned below.

  • Pain on the outer side of the elbow
  • Extreme discomfort when extending the arm
  • Sparks of pain that travel from your elbow to your wrist

Treatment Options for Tennis Elbow

Similar to a golfer’s elbow, a medical professional will evaluate your arm for pain and, according to the level of discomfort, find a suitable treatment. In most cases, all you need is to rest the elbow for some time and follow the doctor’s instructions to heal fast. It is only in rare and severe cases that you might have to undergo surgery to treat the torn tendons.

Golfer’s Elbow vs. Tennis Elbow: What’s The Difference?

The main difference between a golfer’s elbow and a tennis elbow is the location of the pain. That is to say, a golfer’s elbow is pain that takes place on the inside of your elbow, whereas tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow.

Similarly, both conditions affect different tendons. For instance, a golfer’s elbow is related to your medial epicondyle tendons, and tennis elbow majorly affects the lateral epicondyle tendons

Ultimately, the only way to properly differentiate between the two is by visiting your doctor and letting them diagnose you before getting the right treatment.

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Long Story Short

All in all, a golfer’s elbow and a tennis elbow may seem the same, but they are quite different from one another. Their major difference lies in the specific location of the elbow. If you would like to know more about these conditions, feel free to schedule an appointment with Michael Cusick, MD, at (713) 794-3599.


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