Tennis Elbow vs Carpal Tunnel

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Which do you have—tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome? Tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome have similar symptoms. Both conditions can cause weakness in your hand or wrist movements, including your grip. 

However, the causes are very different, and some of the symptoms will help you to differentiate between the two. Occupational therapy, along with other treatments, can be used to treat both conditions.

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If you are looking for a doctor to help treat nerve damage in your elbow, contact our orthopedic experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow today! Our elbow sports injury specialists in Marietta or Atlanta, Georgia can provide you with the quality care you deserve.

About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a passageway made up of ligaments and bone where the median nerve passes. It is located on the palm side of the wrist.

Certain factors can cause pressure to be exerted on the median nerve through the cubital tunnel. Pressure on the median nerve can cause symptoms such as weakness, numbness, or tingling in the hand or arm.

About Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a type of tendonitis at the elbow joint. Tennis elbow is usually caused by repetitive movements of the arm and wrist. The condition is not limited to tennis players but can also be found in professionals such as plumbers, carpenters, and painters.

If you have tennis elbow, you will usually feel pain where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist.

Do My Symptoms Indicate Tennis Elbow or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be misdiagnosed as one instead of the other. Some symptoms that the two conditions share in common can include weakness in your hand or wrist.

In carpal tunnel syndrome, the weakness is due to an interference of the medial nerve signals that control the thumb’s pinching muscles. With tennis elbow, the pain of the tendons may cause weakness in your grip.

The difference between the symptoms is that with carpal tunnel syndrome, you may have numbness or tingling in your fingers or hand. The fingers usually affected are the thumb, index, middle, or ring finger. These fingers may experience a feeling like an electric shock.

With tennis elbow, you will experience a lot of pain at the elbow joint. This pain may travel down the outside of your elbow into your forearm and wrist.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Anything that irritates or causes pressure on the median nerve through the carpal tunnel may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This could include a wrist fracture or the swelling and inflammation caused by an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes of Tennis Elbow

Anything that causes the repetitive straightening and lifting of your hand can cause tennis elbow. This could include performing a backhand in tennis with an incorrect technique or plumbing, painting, and cutting ingredients while cooking.

Available Treatments

Occupational therapists can provide you with effective treatment without the need for tennis elbow surgery. These rehabilitation treatments can include the following:

  • Rest from activities that cause the pain
  • Ice packs
  • Non-steroid anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

Contact Our Specialists Today!

If you need a specialist to help treat your elbow or wrist pain or address nerve damage, contact our orthopedic experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow today! Our expert doctors in Marietta and Atlanta, GA look forward to helping you get back to doing the things that you love. Schedule your appointment today!

Medically reviewed by

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon