What’s Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow is also known as Medial Epicondylitis. It is essentially the same condition as the better-known Tennis Elbow, just occurring on the opposite side of the elbow. Golfer’s Elbow is an injury from overuse that affects the tendons of muscles that attach to the medial epicondyle of the elbow. The medial epicondyle is a small protrusion of bone that is located at the bottom inside edge of the humerus, or upper arm bone. Golfer’s Elbow is an inflammation of these tendons, which attach muscle to bone, that attach at this site. The muscles that attach to the medial epicondyle are several muscles that run through the forearm. The muscles that are located in the forearm that attach to the medial epicondyle are responsible for, among other things, flexing (bending) the wrist and pronating the hand, or turning it down, palm facing down.

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?

The causes of Golfer’s Elbow can affect many other individuals than those who play golf. It is referred to as Golfer’s Elbow because it is a common disorder seen in individuals that play the sport because of the frequent, forceful flexing of the wrist involved. Flexion of the wrist involves bending the wrist from a straightened position. Other sports, hobbies, or job duties may cause this condition just as frequently. Causes and risk factors of Golfer’s Elbow may be:

Overuse of the forearm muscles that flex (bend) the wrist and fingers as in sports such as golf, hockey, rowing, weight lifting, sports that involve a lot of throwing, and bowling

● Overuse from other activities such as gardening, raking, painting, woodworking and other manual work
● Increased age
● Improperly warming-up before engaging in strenuous activity
● Improper athletic technique
● Certain medications such as steroids
● Smoking and excessive alcohol use

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What Are Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow?

Often, the symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow will develop gradually and worsen over time. There usually is not a single, inciting incident. Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow may be any one or all of the following:

● Elbow pain located on the inside part of the elbow
● Pain that worsens with bending the elbow involved in activities such as shaking hands, or lifting a baby
● Weakness noticed with any of the above activities
● Stiffness in the elbow and an associated loss of range of motion
● A ‘pins and needles’ sensation that can extend down the arm into the hand

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Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

The treatment for Golfer’s Elbow is often successfully treated non-surgically. The treatment involves:

● Discontinuation of the aggravating activity, allowing the tendons to rest
● NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
● A brace may be recommended by your doctor to wear on your forearm or elbow, called a counterforce brace, with the goal of taking pressure off of the tendons
● Cortisone injections
● Extracorporeal shock wave therapy: this intervention consists of sending sound waves to the area of injury in order to facilitate healing
● Physical therapy: there are many exercises that a patient will be instructed to perform in physical therapy with the focus on eccentric exercises. Eccentric exercises are a form of strengthening the muscle as it lengthens, as opposed to a concentric contraction as in a biceps curl, when the muscle is shortening as it contracts. Eccentric exercises have been proven to be quite effective in managing the pain of tendon injuries. Deep tissue and transverse friction massage are also modalities that physical therapists frequently use when treating tendon injuries

There are surgical options that may be considered when the progression of this condition is very advance and conservative treatment fails to reduce pain and improve function. Surgery for Medial Epicondylitis involves removal of the damaged/diseased part of the tendon.
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