It may be hard to believe that playing a non-contact sport like golfing can result in an injury. Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a medical condition in which the tendons of the forearm become painful. This occurs where the muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. Pain from golfer’s elbow can spread up to the forearm and down to the wrist.
Treatment for golfer’s elbow includes resting the affected arm and avoiding any movements that exacerbate the pain. Stretching and strengthening exercises can be implemented. Ice packs used for 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day can also help relieve pain and swelling.
Causes of Golfer’s Elbow
Although this condition can happen to the avid golfer, it is not limited to those who play the sport. Anyone who repeatedly uses their wrist or clenches their fingers, including tennis players and those who play other racket sports, can also develop golfer’s elbow. Individuals who throw balls and other objects are also at risk. This includes baseball and softball pitchers with improper technique. Other sports such as football, archery and javelin throwing can cause it as well.
Sports are not the only cause of this condition. Some occupations can also contribute to the development of golfer’s elbow. Individuals in the construction industry, plumbing and carpentry often use forceful, repetitive movements which can overload the tendons and muscles of the elbow.
Certain factors make you more susceptible for developing this condition. This condition affects more people over the age of 40, especially if you perform repetitive activities for more than two hours a day. Individuals who are obese are at a higher risk, and smokers are also at an increased risk.
Golfer’s elbow can be prevented when you take the proper precautions. Using light weights to strengthen your forearm muscles can help prevent the condition. You can also squeeze a tennis ball. These simple exercises strengthen the muscles so they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.
Stretching before you participate in an activity helps warm up the muscles. Be sure you are using the correct form for the task at hand and the correct method for lifting. Improper form, whether in a sport or occupation, can lead to a painful golfer’s elbow.
Make sure your equipment is not contributing to problems. Older golf clubs can be heavy. Consider switching to lighter graphite clubs. If you play racket sports, be sure your racket is the right size for you. Too small of a grip or too heavy of a racket head can cause issues with elbow pain.
It is also important to know when it is time to take a break. Overuse of your elbow can lead to problems. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain in your elbow, stop the activity. Continuing to play or work through the pain is asking for problems.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Elbow stiffness and pain will be assessed by your doctor. You may be asked to move your elbow, wrist and fingers as the doctor applies pressure to the affected area to determine the extent of stiffness and evaluate your pain level.
To rule out other causes of your elbow pain, your doctor may request an x-ray of the area. A small fracture or arthritis can also cause this type of pain. An accurate diagnosis is required in order to implement effective treatment.
Once you have been diagnosed with golfer’s elbow, your doctor will advise you to rest the elbow and avoid activities that will cause pain. Resuming activity too soon or while you are still experiencing pain can cause the condition to get worse. Allow the elbow to heal before participating in the activities that caused the problem
Putting ice on the affected area will help reduce the pain. This may be used intermittently throughout the day for several days. Be sure to protect your skin by wrapping the ice pack in a thin towel. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be suggested as well to help reduce the pain.
Some patients may find a counterforce brace helpful. This can help reduce tendon and muscle strain. Stretching and strengthening the muscles with a doctor’s supervision can be effective.
The patient-centered care you receive at Manhattan Sports Therapy can help you get back in the game quickly. Contact us if you are experiencing elbow pain. Call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rolland Nemirovsky.