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Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow: November 21, 2011

Mark Davis has been holding court for thirty years now.

“Believe it or not, tennis is one thing I’ve never gotten burned out on and gosh how many tennis balls have I hit in my life?”

But all his serves and volleys have taken a toll on his body. He’s now in a constant duel with tennis elbow.

“You know when you get it cause it’s definitely - it’s a burning, hot stabbing sensation,” says Mark.

Tennis elbow is a form of tendonitis brought on by repetitive motions. While it’s the more common manifestation, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are two sides of the same coin.

“Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are very similar; most people do have problems on the outside of their elbow but when people have pain and difficulty due to activities on the inside of the elbow, we call that golfer’s elbow,” says Dr. Dennis Sagini, an orthopedic surgeon with the medical staff at Lee Memorial Health System.

So tennis elbow affects the outside of the joint and golfer’s elbow affects the inside. But the two conditions are on the same playing field when it comes to treatment.

“The person should modify their activities. Number one: rest for some period; not that you have to stop completely but reduce the amount and the severity of the activity. Number two: ice after activities. Number three: therapy,” says Dr. Sagini.

A final step would be surgery, in which the segment of inflamed tendon is removed.

“When the surgical procedure is performed it usually takes away the majority of the discomfort. In other words it allows people to go back to their activities without significant discomfort,” says Dr. Sagini.

Fewer than 10% of patients resort to that option. Including Mark, who chose a minimal approach.

“I take anti-inflammatories and I ice every day and just recently I took two, two and a half weeks off and really didn’t hit at all.”

He’s getting good results, by pacing his play.