Golfer’s elbow, medically referred to as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that causes discomfort, stiffness, and tenderness in the muscles inner of the elbow and forearm.
It is caused by excessive use or general wear and tear of the tendons, muscles, and bone in this region, which is responsible for gripping and wrist flexion.
A golfer’s elbow is like a tennis elbow, which actually happens on the outside of the elbow. It is not all about golfers. Tennis players and those who often clench their fingers or use their wrists may often experience golfer’s elbow.
Golfer’s elbow pain should not have to drive you away from the course or from your favorite hobbies. Instead, rest and proper care will help you re-enter the workforce.
How do you determine if you have a golfer’s elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is much less frequent than tennis elbow (pain over the outside elbow). Ironically, the majority of people we see with this disorder have never even touched a golf ball!
Golfer’s elbow is sometimes characterized as a burning sensation on the inside of the elbow. At first, symptoms are sporadic and appear when doing manual activities such as searching, holding bags, or weightlifting in the gym. Early signs usually last for a few weeks if aggravating conditions are eliminated (i.e., the activities that cause the pain). We recognize, however, that this is not always true. With time, flareups may become more severe, resulting in increased pain thresholds that impair all everyday activities.
Common symptoms of a golfer’s elbow are:
- Pain on the inside of the elbow – this spot is usually very tender to the touch and extremely sore if struck by anything.
- Gripping, dragging, and handling movements cause pain.
- A sense of weakness when it comes to gripping tasks or forming a fist.
- Experiencing discomfort while doing activities such as opening and shutting jars or pouring kettles.
- Repetitive activities such as sawing, grinding and screwing cause pain.
- Pain associated with grip-intensive sports such as golf and tennis
How is the golfer’s elbow diagnosed?
If you believe you might have a golfer’s elbow, it is advised that you see a doctor.
Your physician will diagnose the golfer’s elbow at your initial consultation. Your clinician will conduct a thorough and accurate history of your symptoms, eliciting information about how your suffering began and what aggravates or alleviates your symptoms. Next, a series of clinical examinations will be performed to determine your back, forearm, elbow, and grip strength. Additionally, he will palpate (feel) your elbow to determine the source of your discomfort.
The consistency of your tendon and the seriousness of your injury will be determined using real-time diagnostic ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound may diagnose tendonitis, tendinopathy, and/or tendon tears or ruptures. Accurate diagnosis is critical to ensuring that you get the most appropriate care possible.
How is the golfer’s elbow treated?
Golfer’s elbow maybe a sluggish healer, which is why it is important to begin therapy as soon as possible. The vast majority of golfer’s elbow patients react favorably to conservative care.
Conservative care of a golfer’s elbow is best managed by a physiotherapist and consists of the following:
- Advice on modifying one’s activities
- Exercises to protect the forearms
- Stretching activities for the forearms
- Forearm soft tissue techniques, such as deep tissue massage
Here are a few top tips you may like to try yourself:
- Modify habits that aggravate the symptoms – which could include taking frequent breaks and breaking a job down into manageable tasks.
- Purchase an ‘epiclasp’ band – this can assist in reducing elbow discomfort by using your wrist and elbow muscles.
- Stretching the wrists and elbows gently
- After things that aggravate the symptoms, place a small bag of frozen peas (wrapped in a towel) over the elbow.
- Consider using a topical anti-inflammatory gel
- Consult a pharmacist first.
What if conservative management is ineffective?
If the suffering does not improve for several months, you have a few more medication options. This includes the following:
Treatment with Extracorporeal Shockwaves (ESWT)
Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive, evidence-based treatment alternative for tendon pain that is clinically successful. It operates by inflicting coordinated microtrauma on the tendon through a series of powerful repeated sound waves directed directly at it. This initiates the body’s self-healing process. Additionally, local nerve endings are desensitized, resulting in a decrease in pain. A minimum of three sessions is required for patients (ideally one week apart).
Treatment of Ultrasound-Guided Prolozone Injections
If the discomfort persists or worsens after conservative management, an injection may be suitable for you.
Injection treatment is suggested if the following conditions exist:
- Pain interferes with your ability to sleep or keeps you awake at night.
- Pain that prevents you from doing routine duties such as washing and dressing, cooking, or engaging in recreational activities
- Pain that is preventing you from participating in physiotherapy recovery
- A golfer’s elbow injection is used to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with the condition. It creates a ‘window of opportunity for pain-free elbow rehabilitation. Within 1-2 weeks of the injection, it is advised that you begin a course of physiotherapy.
The quick and efficient exercises listed above will assist you in managing golfer’s elbow symptoms as soon as they manifest. You should repeat them a few times each.
Similarly, there are a variety of home remedies and prevention recommendations available to help keep the disease from deteriorating.
Additionally, consume a nutritious diet, get enough rest, and work out a few hours per week. Within two weeks of therapy, the symptoms should subside. If you do not see change during this time period, see your physician.
- EFORT Open Reviews. (2017). EFORT Open Reviews. https://online.boneandjoint.org.uk/doi/full/10.1302/2058-5241.2.160006
- Golf Injury Prevention – OrthoInfo – AAOS. (2015). Aaos.org. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/golf-injury-prevention/