Golfers elbow is an overuse injury that affects the tendons on the inner side of the elbow, with symptoms that include pain and tenderness at the inner elbow. It is a result of extensive gripping activity that over time places excess stress on your forearm muscles. Golfers elbow treatment primarily requires resting these injured tendons and allowing them a chance to recover. However, if your pain is severe, your doctor may suggest pain reliving medication such as aspirin. There are also exercises that you can perform to strengthen your forearm muscles and reduce the risk of developing golfers elbow again in the future.
What Is Golfers Elbow?
This condition is caused by excessive use of the flexor and extensor muscles of the forearm. These muscles are employed in gripping objects as well as in lifting and lowering the forearm. Extensive use of these muscles can result in soreness and inflammation of the tendons that connect these muscles to the bump on the inner side of your elbow.
This condition is very similar to tennis elbow. The main difference between the two is that tennis elbow affects the tendons on the outer (lateral) side of the elbow. With golfers elbow, it is the tendons on the inner (medial) side of the elbow that are involved. But the causes and symptoms of the two conditions are otherwise very similar.
As with tennis elbow, the risk of experiencing this condition has little or nothing to do with playing golf. Although both tennis and golf require extensive use of gripping muscles, there are many other conditions that can put you at risk of developing tennis or golfers elbow. These may include holding a paintbrush to paint, operating a computer mouse and even holding a pen, to take a few examples.
Golfers Elbow risk factors include the following:
Age – you are more likely to contract this condition if you are 40 years of age or older;
Your occupational or recreational activities. If you perform activities that require extensive gripping or holding movements on a daily basis, you are more at risk of experiencing the pain of golfers elbow;
Obesity and smoking also place you at increased risk of this condition.
Golfers Elbow Symptoms
As mentioned earlier, the primary symptoms are pain and tenderness on the medial (inner) side of your elbow. However, you may also experience the following symptoms if you are afflicted with golfers elbow:
Pain radiating along the inside of your forearm;
Pain radiating into your hand and along one or two fingers (probably the ring and little fingers);
Elbow stiffness and difficulty “making a fist” due to a feeling of weakness in your hand and wrist;
Increased pain when attempting certain movements that require a stronger grip (swinging a golf cub, for instance).
As mentioned, golfers elbow symptoms closely resemble those of tennis elbow. The main difference will be that you experience them along the inner side of the elbow and forearm instead of the outer side.
Golfers Elbow Treatment
As with many overuse injuries, the approach to the treatment of golfers elbow mainly involves rest. Given a chance, the injured tendons will recover naturally. Try to avoid activities that aggravate the condition (i.e. those that require use of a strong grip) for as long as possible.
To help relieve the pressure on your elbow tendons, your doctor may suggest use of a golfers elbow brace like one of those shown below. They will help to reduce the vibrations travelling along your forearm and reaching your elbow tendons. thus allowing them to recover more quickly.
To ease the pain of medial epicondylitis, you can try using ice, a cold pack or a topical analgesic. Another alternative for pain relief could be a prescription medication or an NSAID. However, we would not suggest these as a first measure due to potential side effects.
A fourth treatment strategy for golfers elbow would be starting on a course of exercises to stretch and strengthen your forearm extensor and flexor muscles. This will hep them cope with the demands of your daily activities without aggravating the adjacent elbow tendons.
If these more conservative treatments do not relieve your golfers elbow, your doctor may suggest a more aggressive approach. These may include cortisteroid or plasma injections or even surgery to removed the injured portions of your elbow tendon. In most cases, though, conservative approaches such as those mentioned above should be successful in treating your golfers elbow.