Golfer’s Elbow (also known as medial epicondylitis) occurs when patients overuse the tendons in the elbows, usually by repetitive wrist and arm motions.
Despite the name, anyone can experience Golfer’s Elbow. Professions with high rates of Golfer’s Elbow diagnosis include plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers.
Golfer’s Elbow primarily causes pain around where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. The pain may also spread down into the forearm and wrist.
Resting the elbow and taking over-the-counter pain relievers often helps relieve Golfer’s Elbow. If conservative treatments fail to reduce the pain, the doctor may suggest surgery.
Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
The pain associated with Golfer’s elbow often radiates from the inside of your elbow down into the forearm and wrist. Patients with Golfer’s Elbow may find it difficult to:
- Shake hands or maintain grip on an object
- Turn doorknobs
- Hold a coffee cup
Causes of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow arises due to overuse and muscle strain. Repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist leads to the condition. The repeated motions and stress to the elbow tissues result in a series of microscopic tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bony ridge on the inside of your elbow.
Just as the name suggests, Golfers tend to suffer from this particular injury — due to the repeated use of the golf swing with poor technique. However, many common arm motions can lead to medial epicondylitis, including:
- Using plumbing tools
- Using a hammer on nails and screws
- Cutting up ingredients for cooking, particularly meat
- Jobs requiring use of a computer mouse
Patients suffering from Golfer’s elbow often recover on their own with conservative treatment. But if over-the-counter medicine and other consevative treatments fail to offer relief, your doctor may also suggest physical therapy. The most severe cases of medial epicondylitis may require surgery.
If patients acquired the disorder from actually playing golf, your physical therapist may suggest alterations to your golf swing or the movements involved with your job to help mitigate further damage in the future, and determine the best steps to reduce stress on your muscle tissue.
A physical therapist may also instruct you in exercises to gradually stretch and strengthen your muscles, especially in the forearm. Therapist may place a strap or brace on the forearm to help reduce stress on the injured tissue.
If your symptoms have not improved after 6 to 12 months of extensive conservative treatment, you may qualify for surgery to remove the damaged tissue. Elbow Specialists perform these types of procedures through a single large incision or through several smaller incisions.