Golfers elbow is a condition that affects the inside of your elbow. The pain can sometimes be present in the forearm as well as the wrist. The condition is related to repeated over use of the tendons of the forearm. Golfers elbow has many similarities to tennis elbow which is an almost mirror condition effecting the tendon attachment site along the outside of the elbow. Unlike tennis elbow, golfers’ elbow is a rarer condition, it is usually caused by overuse of the forearm muscles that allow you to grip/rotate the hand and wrist. As well as this any finger movements such a repetitive flexing of fingers or dexterous movements. Theses repeated movements cause inflammation around the tendons that control these movements in turn causing pain.
Golfers elbow normally causes symptoms such as:
- Pain and tenderness
Most of the time felt along the inside of the elbow and can extended down the forearm into the wrist area.
- Pain made worse with movement
Usually pain will worsen with specific gripping and flexing movements
You may also have some weakness with specific movements in your hand and wrist
- Numbness and tingling
Golfers elbow can present with altered sensation (numbness and tingling) this is normally located in the ring and little finger and into the forearm’s
Golfers elbow tendons can begin either suddenly or gradually based on the cause of the injury, if you begin to notice any of these symptoms you should seek medical attention.
- Your elbow is hot to touch and inflamed
- You can’t fully move your elbow through full motion
- No sensation in one or more fingers
- Deformity anywhere around the elbow
- Hard impact mechanism (suspect a fracture)
Causes of injury
The medical term for golfer’s elbow is medical epicondylitis, this is relative to the medial epicondyle where the tendons that are damaged attach to. As well as overuse this condition can also be caused by improper lifting or throwing techniques. Unusually the condition is directly related to golf. Below is a list of sports that also may commonly cause the condition.
Racket sports – with improper technique and strength with swinging movements such as a tennis backhand.
Throwing sports – most throwing sports when no performed correctly can cause golfers elbow (discus, javelin etc.).
Forceful repetitive actions – this may be in a sports environment or in occupational movements such as plumbing construction work.
Typically, those who suffer with golfer’s elbow will be able to recover in a number of weeks with good rest and exercise prescription from a physiotherapist.
Here are some steps that may help prevent the condition from developing.
- Strengthen your forearm muscles– use simple exercises to strengthen grip strength and other forearm and wrist movements so that the tendon will not because damaged under load.
- Stretch before activity – before any activity involving the elbow, arms and wrist you should warm up and stretch correctly
- Form – ensure you are using the correct form when playing spots or during occupational movements.
- Know when to rest – the main cause of this condition is overuse therefore knowing when to allow you body adequate healing time is important to allow structures to heal and rest.
- Correct equipment – particularly in racket sports and golf you should ensure all your equipment correctly tailored for your level of ability, strength and size.