Are golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow the same?

No. While they are both overuse injuries that cause pain, they differ slightly.


Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow affect the muscles and ligaments in the forearm. However, these conditions cause pain and inflammation in different parts of the elbow.

As their names imply, the lateral ligament injury is caused by the repetitive forward motions such as those used to play tennis, while the medial ligament injury is caused by the repetitive backward motion required during a golf swing.

Though you may not play golf or tennis, repetitive forearm movements, especially those that apply force such as hammering, cutting wood or twisting, may make you susceptible to these overuse injuries also known as epicondylitis.

Both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can cause:

  • Pain and stiffness in your elbow
  • A weakness in your hands and wrists
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in one or more of your fingers

Tennis elbow often causes pain or burning on the outside of the elbow or forearm. Golfer’s elbow causes pain on the inside of the elbow and forearm.

A visit to an orthopedic clinician can confirm the existence of tendonitis, which can cause either of these elbow conditions.

During your visit, the clinician will ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical examination of your arm and elbow. In some instances, your clinician may order X-rays and ultrasounds to rule out other causes of elbow pain.

Treatment of both conditions is similar. You may work with a rehabilitation or sports medicine specialist to:

  • Retrain your muscles
  • Modify form and execution of the repetitive movements
  • Strengthen and stabilize the muscles and tendons surrounding your elbow joint

During your recovery, you may also be prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain. You will be asked to rest and immobilize your injury.

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow may also be treated with cortisone injections to relieve pain. If non-surgical treatment methods are unsuccessful, your orthopedic specialist may consider a surgical option.

The orthopedic experts at Affinity Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center are available to help you minimize pain and maximize your movement. Please call (920) 996-3700 to request an appointment or more information.

Acension Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center

Madison Center at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital
1531 S. Madison St.
4th floor
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 996-3700

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1506 S. Oneida St
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 738-2000

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