What is Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is pain or inflammation on the inside of the arm near the elbow, where the muscles and tendons in the forearm attach to the elbow’s interior bony area. In some cases, a partial tear of the tendon, which attaches the muscles to the bone of the elbow, may occur. Pain can be felt in the elbow, forearm, wrist, or fingers.
What causes Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is often caused by the overuse or repetitive use of the muscles in the wrist or fingers. Despite its name, the condition is not solely caused by playing golf, although it is a common injury among those that play golf due to the overuse of the muscles that can cause the condition during the sport. The injury can occur from a sudden and abrupt injury to the tendons and muscles in the forearm or a sudden and severe force to the wrist or elbow, or more typically can occur over time due to repeated overuse of the muscles in the wrist and fingers. The condition is more common in men than women and often affects people that are involved in repetitive use activities for work or leisure that may stress the wrists or fingers.
What are the symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow?
The symptoms of golfer’s elbow include pain that is apparent near the inside area of the elbow. The pain can also radiate along the inside of the forearm, and may be felt through the wrist and fingers. The pain typically develops over time, increasing in severity, although it can come on more suddenly if an abrupt injury occurs rather than a repetitive use injury. The pain is often felt in a person’s dominant arm, since that is the arm that is most often used for most movements, although it can occur in both arms, and pain may be felt when twisting the wrist or arm, squeezing an object, picking something up, or even shaking hands. In addition to pain, individuals with golfer’s elbow may experience stiffness in the elbow, numbness or tingling in the fingers, or weakness in the wrist or hand.
How is Golfer’s Elbow diagnosed?
Golfer’s elbow can be diagnosed by a medical professional based on the description and location of pain. A medical professional will apply pressure to the area to determine pain and tenderness and will ask you to move your arm, elbow, wrists and fingers to see how the movement affects discomfort. There are no medical tests that can diagnose the condition with certainty, however, and x-rays are typically normal.
When should I seek care for Golfer’s Elbow?
If you experience repeated or continuous pain in the interior of your elbow, forearm, wrist or fingers, you should see a medical professional so that a proper diagnosis can be made. By treating the injury and resting the affected area, you can avoid continued pain and worsening of the injury. If you have already been diagnosed with golfer’s elbow and basic treatment (such as ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications) does not alleviate future pain, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional. If the pain is severe or comes on suddenly, if your elbow is inflamed, or if you can’t bend the elbow, you should seek immediate medical advice.
What will the treatment for Golfer’s Elbow consist of?
Typical treatment for golfer’s elbow may involve over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain or inflammation, cortisone injections, application of ice, and a recommendation to avoid activity that causes pain while the injury heals. Once the pain has subsided, physical therapy at Determination Physical Therapy is typically recommended to strengthen and stretch the tendons and muscles around the elbow and in the forearm and wrist to avoid repeated injury. A change in how activities and movements are done may be recommended, the limiting of some activities may be suggested, and the use of a brace, forearm strap or elastic bandage worn near the elbow may avoid future pain and injury. If the injury and pain does not respond to traditional treatments, surgery may be a last resort option, although this is not often necessary.
Which muscle groups/ joints are commonly affected from Golfer’s Elbow?
The interior portion of the elbow, as well as the tendons and muscles that connect to the elbow in the forearm, are affected in individuals with golfer’s elbow. Pain may also be felt in the wrist and fingers.
What type of results should I expect from the treatment for Golfer’s Elbow?
If treatment for golfer’s elbow is sought on a timely basis and is completed according to doctor’s recommendations, most individuals will notice a complete or at least substantial improvement in the pain associated with the initial condition. It may take a number of months for the pain to diminish and reintroducing activity may cause the pain to return. Rest is best to help the elbow heal when re-injury occurs. Ongoing changes to activity levels or the use of different techniques or equipment may need to be incorporated into routine activities in order to avoid re-injury. In a small percentage of cases, surgery may be required to repair the muscles and tendons near the elbow in order to clear up the underlying injury and pain associated with golfer’s elbow. When surgery is indicated, it is often successful in diminishing or alleviating pain.