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Causes Of Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are both forms of epicondylitis, but they differ in more ways than one:

  • Tennis elbow: Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the lateral epicondyle – the outside of the elbow. It is caused by overuse of the tendons that extend to the wrist. 
  • Golfer’s elbow: Golfer’s elbow, medically known as medial epicondylitis, is an inflammatory injury that affects the medial condyle – the inner part of the elbow. It is caused by overuse of the tendons that flex the wrist. 

Today, only 5% of the patient population with tennis elbow is made up of tennis players. And, in 90% of cases, golfer’s elbow is caused by activities other than playing sports. 

That is because racket sports aren’t the only cause behind medial or lateral epicondylitis! Let’s look at the most common risk factors for inflammatory conditions of the elbow below. 

Racket, Throwing, And Club-And-Ball Sports

Improper technique when practicing sports that involve a repetitive elbow motion can lead to epicondylitis. You might be at greater risk of developing elbow conditions if you play tennis, golf, archery, javelin, or squash. Performing weightlifting and biceps exercises incorrectly might also irritate the elbow tendons. 

Strenuous Activities And Repetitive Motions

Some hobbies and activities involving hand tools or repetitive actions can excessively stress the muscles and tendons in the elbow area. When this happens, micro tears and damage of the soft tissues responsible for elbow motions can lead to inflammation and pain.  

Activities that are likely to lead to epicondylitis include using gardening shears, driving screws, playing the violin, typing, and sewing. 

Repetitive Occupational Movements 

In some professional fields, inflammation of the tendons in the elbow might be considered an occupational hazard. This is more likely in jobs that include forceful and repetitive manual tasks such as bricklaying, plumbing, painting, decorating, operating a chainsaw, and working on assembly lines. 

When performed over long periods of time, these activities can overload the forearm muscles that attach to the outside or the inside of the elbow. In turn, overworking your muscles can place excessive stress on the tendons that connect these muscles to the bones and are responsible for wrist movements. When the tendons are damaged, it is common to experience pain, discomfort, and a feeling of instability in the elbow. 

Elbow Trauma And Weak Muscles 

Although less likely, you might develop epicondylitis after knocking your elbow or straining your forearm muscles. Some risk factors to watch out for include aging, being overweight or obese, smoking, and poor conditioning. 

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Symptoms Of Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis and medial epicondylitis might manifest themselves with a wide range of symptoms, which often include pain, numbness, discomfort, and loss of grip strength. 

When these symptoms are present, a specialist will run physical exams, X-rays, and other imaging tests to ensure that the culprit is indeed tennis or golfer’s elbow – and not arthritis or cubital tunnel syndrome (damage to the ulnar nerve, which passes through the cubital tunnel located in the elbow). 

Indeed, when it comes down to treating chronic inflammatory conditions, understanding the underlying cause can prevent complications such as nerve damage and joint degeneration. 

Here are the telltale signs that you need to consult a specialist:

Elbow Pain and Tenderness 

Epicondylitis causes pain or tenderness on the inside or outside of your elbow, which is due to inflammation, overworked muscles, and tendon damage. The pain typically worsens with movements of the hand and wrists, and doesn’t ease with rest. 

Numbness and Tingling

If you have epicondylitis, you might also experience numbness and tingling around the elbow or forearm, which may radiate into your fingers. This is because the damage and inflammation affecting the epicondyle tendons might extend to the surrounding nerves and inhibit their ability to transmit pain, motor, and sensory signals to the brain – especially those traveling from your hand and wrist. 

Weakness And Loss of Grip Strength 

Damaged and inflamed tendons in the elbow area can affect the surrounding structures, including the muscles and nerves in your hand and wrist (to which the lateral and medial epicondyle are connected). When this happens, you might notice a sensation of weakness in the elbow or experience difficulty to carry out even simple actions, such as holding a pen or a cup.


Epicondylitis, which is a form of tendinitis, or the inflammation of a tendon, can lead to the swelling and hardening of soft tissue in the elbow area. Because the swollen tendons aren’t able to support the full range of movement of the muscles they are connected to, you might notice stiffness in your movements, such as when extending or turning your arm. 

Non-surgical Options For Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow

If conservative treatments such as bracing, cold compresses, rest, and corticosteroid injections fail to adequately treat your tennis or golfer’s elbow, you might think the only other treatment option available is surgery. 

Luckily, thanks to today’s advances in stem cell treatments and regenerative medicine, you can get long-lasting results without invasive procedures or long recovery times. Let’s look at the stem cell therapies for tennis and golfer’s elbow that are combined in the treatment options offered at Orthagenex. 

PRP For Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) refers to autologous blood (the patient’s own blood) that has been processed to provide high-doses of platelets, usually 10-40 times higher than baseline values. 

Because PRP is proving to be a simple, safe, and minimally invasive method of supplying growth factors to the area affected by inflammation, these therapies have received considerable interest over the past years. Today, over 30 randomized controlled trials have shown that PRP can boost the body’s repair mechanisms by stimulating cells activity in the targeted area. According to studies, high-dose PRP isn’t just a safe and non-invasive alternative to surgery, but it also delivers clinically meaningful improvements, which become fully evident 24 weeks after the treatment. 

In practice, PRP treatments are a form of interventional orthopedics that uses the blood’s growth factors to help the body repair itself by means of injecting PRP into the damaged tissue using image guidance, like fluoroscopy and  In interventional orthopedics, it is typically used for the treatment of muscle strains, tears, ligament tears, tendon tears, minor arthritis, and joint instability, and can have beneficial effects in individuals affected by tennis or golfer’s elbow. 

Image-Guided Bone Marrow Concentrate For Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow

Stem cells are an essential component of the human body, and are responsible for generating new cells with function of repairing ligaments, tendons, and injured bone among other tissues. However, over time, whether it is because of aging or injury, damaged tissue might not be able to benefit from adequate quantities of stem cells. 

Interventional Orthopedics helps solve that problem by accurately delivering a high concentration of bone marrow concentrate containing stem cells into the injured area or damaged tissue by using imaging guidance, thus aiding your body’s ability to repair naturally. 

These medical procedures use a trocar (sharp-tipped instrument) to cannulate the bone, commonly in the pelvis. This simply provides a small tunnel into the bone so the liquid portion of the bone marrow (aspirate) can then be removed via a syringe.

BMC procedures cause very little downtime and can help patients avoid the long, painful rehabilitation periods that often follow surgery to restore the elbow’s strength and mobility.

Taking The First Step Towards Restoring Your Joint Health

If elbow pain is affecting your private and professional life, regenerative medicine might be the alternative to the orthopedic surgery you’ve been looking for. At Orthagenex, our team of specialists can help you discover a personalized treatment journey that is efficient, non-surgical, non-invasive, painless, and free from medications and opioids. If you are ready to take the first step towards restoring your joint health, get started today by finding the closest Othagenex clinic to you and getting in touch with our team.

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