Golfers Elbow, medically known as Medial Epicondylitis, is a condition that can lead to inflammation and soreness where the forearm tendons and muscles attach to the bone, causing inner elbow pain similar to Pitchers Elbow.
The pain from golfer’s elbow can range from mild to intense, and it may even radiate down the forearm and into the wrist.
Despite the common name for this condition, anyone who consistently engages their wrists and fingers in order to clench an object can develop it.
In fact, there is a similar condition referred to as “tennis elbow” where a slightly different type of grip can lead to pain on the outer part of the elbow.
What is Golfers Elbow and What Causes Medial Epicondylitis?
Golfers Elbow is a form of tendinitis and can be especially irritating and painful. It can cause diminished range of motion and, without golfers elbow treatment, will likely worsen and lead to significant downtime.
Though medial epicondylitis can be caused by sudden trauma, it is typically a condition that develops over time and is the result of repetitive grip or flexion-related movements.
Overuse of forearm muscles can irritate the tendons, which attach the muscles to the bone, leading to tenderness, swelling, stiffness and pain.
Unfortunately, age can play a factor in this condition because of the normal wear and tear on the body that comes with time.
The types of movements that cause this type of elbow pain and injury are a lot more common than many people might realize. Medial Epicondylitis is a common condition for people that are active in weightlifting, rock climbing, throwing or racket sports.
However, other normal activities like gardening, construction, manufacturing work, food preparation or any action that requires a strong, repetitive grip can lead to this injury and require treatment for medial epicondylitis.
Common Golfers Elbow Symptoms
The pain associated with golfers elbow may be mild at first, and even dissipate once a person gets warmed up.
Left untreated though, the condition is likely to become worse, especially if the activity causing the inflammation and tendinitis is not limited or avoided for a period of time.
Golfers elbow symptoms often include some of the following:
- Pain on the inside of the elbow, typically on a person’s dominant arm
- Swelling, inflammation or stiffness in the elbow
- Soreness or pain that radiates into the forearm and wrist
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers
- Weakness in the hands, wrists, or both
- Pain that continues even when not using the arm
- Moderate to severe range of motion issues in the elbow
Without treatment, golfers elbow can make other everyday activities, like gripping the steering wheel, turning a doorknob, picking up groceries, or any number of other grip-related movements, painful and difficult.
Golfers Elbow Treatment
Physicians might order an x-ray to make sure there are no other issues leading to inside elbow pain. The condition is typically diagnosed with a physical exam and a description of symptoms and daily activities, both professional and recreational.
Generally, the first approach to treating medial epicondylitis is to rest and limit the activity that’s causing inflammation and pain.
Some common golfers elbow treatment approaches can include:
1. RICE Method
The RICE Method is a very common way to treat a variety of injuries, including golfers elbow.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Always begin by resting the injured area, followed by a cold compress or ice applied to the sore elbow to help reduce inflammation, swelling and pain, especially right after the activity.
Apply compression to the elbow by wrapping it in an elastic bandage and elevate the elbow above the heart to further reduce swelling and pain.
2. Anti-inflammatory Medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen are useful for relieving pain and inflammation and can be purchased without a prescription at any store or pharmacy.
3. EPAT Therapy
EPAT Therapy uses an EPAT Machine to deliver impulse pressure waves deep into the irritated soft-tissue of the forearm, improving blood flow and reducing inflammation.
This procedure is noninvasive and speeds up the healing process. It can be especially useful for athletes or essential workers who are unable to take a lot of injury-related downtime.
EPAT Treatments help to break down scar tissue to the injured area to further stimulate blood flow and decrease inflammation.
4. KT Tape Golfers Elbow
KT Tape for golfers elbow is a popular method for adding support when applied to the forearm. Here is a video that shows the best way to use KT Tape for this condition.
5. Golfers Elbow Brace for Medial Epicondylitis
A golfers elbow brace can help isolate and support the elbow while rest and other treatments are ongoing to heal the injury. Golfers elbow braces can be found on Amazon and other places online.
Most people will see improvement by incorporating many of the above treatments, which is why golfers elbow surgery is not very common. If surgery is necessary, it usually involves removing scar tissue where the tendon pain is located.
As this condition heals, or even before it occurs, practicing specialized exercises can help prevent or limit injury.
Golfers Elbow Exercises
These simple golfers elbow exercises can be done both before and after physical activity. They are meant to improve strength and flexibility for reducing the chances of incurring any injuries in the future.
1. Forearm and Elbow Stretch
Extend the arm out, palm upward. Use the opposite hand to gently pull the fingers back, toward the body, stretching the forearm for around 30 seconds.
This same stretch can be reversed so that the palm is facing down and the opposite hand is used to gently pull the fingers back, toward the body.
2. Forearm Strength Training
Using a very light weight at first, place the arm on a stable surface where the wrist is over the edge and can be raised and lowered. With the weight placed in the hand, curl upward, flexing the forearm for 10 to 15 reps.
As with the above stretches, this movement can be reversed so that the palm faces down and the upward curl is flexing the top of the forearm.
Golfers Elbow is a fairly common type of injury that can sideline many of us from playing sports or daily work responsibilities, especially as we age.
By practicing some of the exercises above and treating any pain at the first signs of discomfort, it’s possible to minimize the effects and continue sports or work-related activities.
Golfers Elbow image courtesy of Scientific Animations.