Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer's Elbow

Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is a condition marked by pain on the inside of your elbow, where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bone. This pain can extend into your forearm and wrist, and despite its name, it is not exclusive to golfers. Anyone who frequently uses their wrists or clenches their fingers can face the symptoms of golfer’s elbow. If you have golfer’s elbow, it’s essential to understand the condition’s nature and the different ways to treat and prevent it.

diagram showing pain of golfer's elbow

Causes of Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow primarily affects individuals engaging in activities that require repetitive arm motions. This condition is not limited to golfers, as it can occur in anyone who performs similar movements frequently. Common contributors to golfer’s elbow include:

  • Repetitive Arm Motion: The core cause of golfer’s elbow is the repetitive motion of the arm. This is often observed in beginners in golf who are starting and have not fully mastered the proper techniques.
  • Incorrect Weight Shift: In golf, an incorrect weight shift during a swing can lead to excessive stress on the inner forearm muscles. This improper movement pattern causes a strain that, over time, can develop into golfer’s elbow.
  • Acceleration Phase Strain: During the acceleration phase of a golf swing, if the inner forearm muscle is overstrained, it can significantly contribute to the development of golfer’s elbow. This can be due to ‘hitting from the top,’ where the club is thrown down at the ball rather than following a smooth, controlled motion.

Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow

  • Pain and Tenderness: You may notice pain on the inner side of your elbow, extending along the forearm to the wrist, particularly on the palm side. This pain can worsen with specific movements, such as bending the wrist toward the palm or when repeatedly squeezing or lifting objects.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness makes it hard to extend or flex the arm fully. This limits the range of motion and affects daily activities. Simple tasks such as reaching for objects overhead or bending the arm to pick up items from the floor may become difficult or painful.
  • Numbness or Tingling: You might notice a tingling or numbness in your ring and little finger. This feeling can reach from the elbow down to the fingers. It can cause discomfort and may affect your ability to grip objects or perform fine motor tasks.
  • Weak Grip: A noticeable decrease in hand and wrist strength can be evident, which might make it challenging to perform tasks that require gripping or carrying.

woman on golf course with elbow pain

It’s important to monitor these symptoms, as they are key indicators of golfer’s elbow. Early recognition and intervention can prevent the condition from worsening. If you experience a combination of these symptoms, you should seek advice from your physician for proper evaluation.

Risk Factors

Understanding the risk factors associated with golfer’s elbow can help you lessen the likelihood of developing this painful condition. Here are some key risk factors that you should be aware of:

  • Age: Individuals between 45 and 64 are more susceptible to developing golfer’s elbow. The wear and tear on the elbow from repetitive use over the years typically culminate during these middle-aged years.
  • Occupation: Certain professions that require repetitive arm movements can significantly increase the risk. These include painting, plumbing, construction, cooking, and assembly-line work.
  • Sports: Engaging in sports that involve wrist twisting and frequent gripping—such as golf, tennis, baseball, and other throwing sports—heightens the risk.
  • Behavioral: Spending two or more hours daily performing repetitive actions can escalate the risk significantly.

By knowing these risk factors, you can take steps to protect yourself. This is especially true if you are in a higher-risk category. Changing your activities and getting proper technique training are crucial. They can prevent the start of golfer’s elbow.

Diagnosing Golfer’s Elbow

Diagnosing golfer’s elbow involves a comprehensive approach. It includes a review of medical history, a physical exam, and possibly tests. During the medical history review, your doctor will ask when the symptoms started and how long they lasted. This information helps to understand the context of your elbow pain and aids in making an accurate diagnosis.

In the physical examination, your physician will assess the affected elbow for tenderness, swelling, and range of motion. Specific maneuvers may also be performed to reproduce symptoms and evaluate the strength of the forearm muscles. While imaging tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI scans are not always necessary for diagnosing golfer’s elbow, they may be ordered to rule out other possible causes of elbow pain or to assess the extent of tissue damage. Overall, a comprehensive evaluation by your physician is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of golfer’s elbow.

Treatment Options

Several treatment options are available depending on the severity of your condition. Consider the following elbow pain treatment options:

  • Activity Modification: Reducing or modifying activities that exacerbate the condition is often the first step in treatment. This includes avoiding repetitive wrist and arm movements.
  • Physical Therapy: Specific exercises to stretch and strengthen the arm and wrist muscles can significantly alleviate symptoms.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Surgery: Surgical options such as open tendon repair or ligament reconstruction may be considered if symptoms persist despite other treatments. Surgery is typically reserved for severe cases that do not respond to conservative treatments over 6-12 months.

Prevent Golfer’s Elbow Strategies

To effectively prevent golfer’s elbow, it’s essential to understand and implement strategies that reduce the risk of this condition. These strategies include physical preparation, equipment use, and technique adjustments.

  • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Regular exercises that strengthen and stretch the forearm muscles can fortify the muscles against strain. Incorporating stretching and warm-up routines before engaging in activities also prepares the muscles for the stress of repetitive motions.
  • Gradual Progression in Activities: Take it slow. Increase the intensity and length of activities gradually. This lets your body adapt and avoid overuse injuries.
  • Proper Technique: When performing sports or activities that involve gripping or swinging motions, use proper technique. This will reduce strain on the elbow joint and nearby muscles.

friends on the golf course

Our Approach to Golfer’s Elbow Care

Golfer’s elbow can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life, but with proper prevention strategies and timely intervention, individuals can effectively manage symptoms and prevent recurrence.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of golfer’s elbow or have concerns about elbow pain, contact Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health today. Our experienced physicians are here to provide comprehensive evaluations, personalized treatment plans, and guidance to help you achieve optimal elbow health. Take action today to address your elbow concerns and get back to enjoying the activities you love.

North Tampa - 14547 Bruce B Downs Blvd Tampa, Florida 33613

North Tampa

14547 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33613

Suite C


North Tampa

14547 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33613

Suite C

Golfer’s Elbow Care Team at this location:
Wesley Chapel - 2352 Bruce B Downs Blvd Wesley Chapel, Florida 33544

Wesley Chapel

2352 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Wesley Chapel, Florida 33544

Suite 102


Wesley Chapel

2352 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Wesley Chapel, Florida 33544

Suite 102

Zephyrhills - 38107 Market Square Drive Zephyrhills, Florida 33542

Zephyrhills

38107 Market Square Drive
Zephyrhills, FL 33542

Main


Zephyrhills

38107 Market Square Drive
Zephyrhills, FL 33542

Golfer’s Elbow Care Team at this location:
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