What is golfer’s elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is the inflammation and/or degeneration of the tendon around the bony bump on the inner side of the elbow (medial epicondyle). Although Golfer’s elbow can occur in golf and throwing sports this is more common in non-sporting people. It is acondition seen more often in middle-aged population. Men and women are equally affected.
What causes golfer’s elbow?
It is caused by using a repetitive strong grip during lifting activities or sports . The flexor muscles of the forearm that bends the wrist toward the palm of the hand are attached at the medial epicondyle of the elbow. Strong use of these muscles can cause injury at the point of maximum stress where the tendons attach to the bone on the inner side of the forearm.
What are the symptoms of golfer’s elbow?
The patient will experience pain and tenderness over the inner side of the elbow. This may follow a period of activity and will get easier after a period of rest. In more severe cases the hand can feel weak and the grip less strong resulting in difficulty performing certain tasks.
How is golfer’s elbow diagnosed?
To diagnose golfer’s elbow, your doctor/physiotherapist will examine the affected arm and discuss the symptoms with you. Your doctor/physiotherapist will also check for pain in the area around the elbow by pressing on it and bending the hand upwards against pressure to see if this causes pain.
How is golfer’s elbow treated?
Modifying activities that bring on symptoms
Recognise and rest from activities that bring on pain in order to reduce inflammation so that the tendon injury can heal.
Modifying job activities and cutting out repetitive movements of the hand is necessary.
Apply ice packs/frozen peas wrapped in a towel over the painful area for 10 minutes. Repeat this 3 to 4 times a day for the first 3 days.
Anti-inflammatory and other painkillers
Please tell your pharmacist about any other drugs you are using. Ask whether they might be affected by the new drug.
Your doctor may suggest steroid injection which is helpful in easing pain in the short-term.
Studies have shown that physiotherapy may not be as good as a steroid injection at relieving pain in the short-term but it may be superior to steroid injections in the long-term. Your physiotherapist will teach you to do gentle stretching exercises and graded muscle building exercises.
Can golfer’s elbow be prevented?
The best way to avoid golfer’s elbow is to avoid putting too much stress on the tendons in the elbow. The following measures may help:
- Stop the activity that is causing your pain or find a different way of doing it.
- If you play a sport that uses repetitive movements, try to get some professional advice about your technique so that you do not strain your elbow.
- Warm up and gently stretch the muscles before playing sport.
- Increasing the strength of your forearm muscles can help to prevent golfer’s elbow.
Wrist Flexor Stretch
Hold the arm with the elbow straight and the palm facing up. Grasp the involved hand at the fingers and stretch the wrist backward, until a stretch is felt on the inside of the forearm. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times, 2 to 3 times per day.
Reproduced with the kind permission of NHS Fife Physiotherapy services.