Golfers Elbow – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Arm & Elbow Injuries

Golfers Elbow is a painful condition that primarily affects the internal joint of the elbow and as a result causes a lot of pain around the arm.

Although the name suggests that golfers are the only people who get this condition anyone can develop it. However, any activities where certain arm movements a repeated often can increase the chances of developing the condition.

Golfers Elbow is also known to relate to other conditions like tennis elbow which affects the tendons on the outside of the joint rather than the inner joint.

This condition is also known as medial epicondylitis that causes pain and inflammation in and around the arm, and elbow, causing pain in the tendons of the forearm and upper arm; the main source of the pain is within the bony bump and can extend to the forearm.

Generally, this condition is caused by the excessive use of the muscles in the forearm that are involved in moving your arm and wrists. Repetitive flexing, wringing and gripping can also cause strain in the elbow and the bone, causing further problems.

Harsh movements on the wrist and forearm will cause further problems for the elbow and make the condition worse.

Sports such as tennis, bowling, cricket and squash can commonly cause golfers elbow. However, house hold tasks such as gardening or painting can do the same with the repetitive and constant movement for prolonged periods of time putting strain on the bone.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness on the bone within.
  • Weakness and pain in the wrist.
  • Pain when bending and moving the wrist downwards or upwards.
  • Elbow will appear to be stiff and rigid
  • Unable to make full fist
  • Numbing and tingling in the fingers

What you will notice with Golfers Elbow is that the pain starts in the inner side of the elbow but eventually develops in the inside of the forearm which can be more painful and discomforting making the arm hard to use for some tasks requiring constant movement.

It is important to rest and see a doctor to review the condition and in the meantime refrain from doing the following: squeezing a ball, swinging a golf club, swinging a racket, using a doorknob, shaking hands, lifting weights or heavy objects in general and flexing your wrist – these actions can make the condition worse and cause further strain and pain to the elbow.

Causes & Prevention

There are various activities that can cause Golfers Elbows including, of course, golfing. This happens when swinging clubs the wrong way or using the club in a way that is too forceful, causing strain on your muscles. Gripping the clubs too tight and too forcefully can be a cause of strain on the muscles and affect the tendons.

Using a tennis racket in a way that is going to cause strain can also damage your muscles and lead to Golfers Elbows. This can happen if you are using a racket that is way too small for you or too heavy which can result in injuries.

Throwing sports could also result in injuries and Golfers Elbow when throwing with incorrect form.

Also, weights that are too heavy if not used properly can cause injuries very easily to the body including the hands and wrist and cause straining of your elbow.

Treatment

Doctors will generally diagnose Golfer’s Elbow by looking at your medical history and conducting a physical examination of your arm and affected areas to diagnose the condition correctly.

An x-ray may also be used to ensure there isn’t even more serious damage such as a fracture or a rare condition.

In terms of treatment, Golfers Elbow can be treated safely at home using the P.R.I.C.E injury treatment principle, this consists of Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

It is recommended to use a compression pack to reduce swelling and pain. Initially this is applied every 10 to 15 minutes for an hour after which time the pain will be reduced and the pack will only need to be used three or four times a day.

If injury persists then heat appliance can also be used to reduce pain. The heat will aid to stimulate blood flow around the arm and ultimately reduce pain.

It is very important to rest your wrist, arm and elbow to allow healing to take place. Using the wrist/arm while injured can cause further pain and discomfort and worsen the condition.

A brace can be worn to reduce strain and discomfort, providing more ease to move around and rest the arm carefully. It will also reduce the chance of further strain and damage.

A physiotherapist can use more advanced methods to aid the condition such as electrotherapy and ultrasound plus laser treatment that can help to reduce pain and swelling on the arm.

Medicine can also be issued to reduce inflammation such as ibuprofen that the doctor can prescribe or be obtained over the counter but should not be taken by some individuals and you should consult your doctor if unsure.

Massages are also a great technique that can help with reducing pain and inflammation on the tendons and muscles. A cross friction massage is particularly helpful in aiding the pain and discomfort.

Adnan Munye

A certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Adnan specialises in weight loss, muscle building, body conditioning, core strengthening and injury rehabilitation. Adnan comes from sporting background, where he has played football, badminton, rugby, and swimming all at various levels.
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Last modified: 19th September 2018