Golfer's Elbow


Golfer’s Elbow, scientifically called medial epicondylitis, is a medical condition characterized by pain and inflammation in the tendons that link the forearm to the elbow. Located at the medial epicondyle of the humerus, the pain typically emanates from the bony bump on the inside of the elbow, spreading into the forearm and wrist.

Often misunderstood as an ailment confined to those who engage in golf, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Indeed, this condition is not exclusive to golfers. It is a condition that can impact a broad range of individuals, extending beyond the golfing community.

Tennis players, for example, are another group who frequently encounter this condition, leading to the misconception that a golfer’s elbow and a tennis elbow are the same. However, they are different. Tennis elbow manifests on the outside of the elbow, while the former affects the inside.

Moreover, individuals who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers due to their professional or recreational activities also stand at an increased risk of developing a golfer’s elbow. This includes manual labourers, weight lifters, and even office workers who spend hours typing on a keyboard.

What is Golfer’s Elbow? Understanding Elbow Tendon Injuries in a Golfer

What is Golfer's Elbow? Understanding Elbow Tendon Injuries in a Golfer
Photo Credit: Virtual Sports Injury Clinic

Golfer’s elbow occurs when the tendons that connect the muscles of your forearm to the inside of your elbow become overloaded due to repetitive wrist and arm motions. This condition is similar to tennis elbow, which occurs on the outside of the elbow. However, a golfer’s elbow is characterized by pain that is concentrated on the inside of the elbow, especially along the bony bump where the tendons attach.

  • Muscles and Tendons Involved: The condition affects the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers. The pain might spread into your forearm and wrist.
  • Tenderness: The ailment is marked by tenderness and pain on the inner side of your elbow. The pain can extend along the inner side of your forearm and can worsen with certain movements, such as swinging a golf club or lifting weights.
  • A Common Overuse Injury: A golfer’s elbow is an overuse injury. Overuse injuries, like golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow, are common in people who perform repetitive movements, such as golfers or tennis players, but they can also occur from everyday activities.

Golfer’s Elbow Causes & Wrist Injuries: What are the Signs and Symptoms?

A golfer’s elbow is usually caused by overusing the muscles in the forearm that allow you to grip, rotate your arm, and flex your wrist. Repetitive flexing, gripping, or swinging can cause pulls or tiny tears in the tendons, leading to pain and tenderness.

  • Improper Technique: Using the wrong technique while participating in sports like golf or tennis can lead to this condition. Improper pitching technique in baseball, for example, can also lead to this condition.
  • Weight Training: Incorrectly lifting weights can overload the muscles and tendons of the elbow, causing a golfer’s elbow.
  • Repetitive Activities: Even non-sports-related activities, such as gardening, shovelling, or hammering nails, can cause a golfer’s elbow if they are done repetitively.

Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms

Golfer's Elbow Symptoms
Photo Credit: Racool_Studio, Freepik

The symptoms of a golfer’s elbow involve pain and tenderness on the inner side of your elbow. Over time, the pain might spread to the inner side of your forearm.

  • Elbow Pain: Elbow pain typically appears gradually. It may be mild at first and get worse over time.
  • Stiffness: The elbow may feel stiff, and making a fist might hurt.
  • Weakness: Weakness in the hands and wrists is another common symptom.
  • Numbness or Tingling: These sensations might radiate into one or more fingers — usually the ring and little fingers.

Conservative Treatment for Golfer’s Elbow

The treatment of the golfer’s elbow includes conservative options like rest, stretching exercises, and the use of a brace. Sometimes, more aggressive treatment, like surgery, may be necessary.

  • Rest and Rehabilitation: The first step in treatment is to rest the affected area. This might include keeping your wrist rigid and stable and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain. Physical therapy exercises can help to strengthen and improve the flexibility of the elbow and forearm muscles.
  • Brace: A counterforce brace on the forearm can help reduce tendon and muscle strain.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can help to manage pain and reduce swelling.
  • Surgery: If conservative treatment options fail, surgical intervention may be required to relieve pain and restore movement.

Conservative Treatment for Golfer's Elbow
Photo Credit: @diana.grytsku, Freepik

In conclusion, a golfer’s elbow, though common among golfers, can affect anyone who performs repetitive wrist, hand, or arm movements. If you suspect you have this condition, consult a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs) About Golfer’s Elbow

What is a golfer’s elbow?

Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is a condition causing pain and swelling on the inside of the elbow, near the bony bump (medial epicondyle) of the humerus. This injury is common in people who perform repetitive arm movements.

How to prevent a golfer’s elbow?

Prevention involves performing strengthening exercises to support the wrist and elbow, fixing improper form in sports or repetitive activities, and avoiding overuse of the forearm muscles.

What are the symptoms of a golfer’s elbow?

Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow, stiffness in the elbow, weakness in the hands and wrists, and sometimes numbness or tingling in the fingers.

How to treat a golfer’s elbow?

Treatment often involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling. Strengthening and stretching exercises can also help. Severe cases may require a corticosteroid injection or surgery.

What exercises help with the golfer’s elbow?

Strengthening exercises that focus on the forearm can help with this condition. This may include wrist curls, wrist extensions, and forearm pronation and supination. Always consult a physical therapist or a professional for the best exercises for your condition.