Golfer’s elbow is very similar to, the more well known, tennis elbow. In fact it is the same injury only on the inside tendon of the forearm instead of the outside. It causes pain where the tendon (medial epicondyle) attaches to the inside of the elbow – that bumpy part that tingles when you knock it.
It is generally caused due to stress on the tendon from repetitive actions such as those used in golf and tennis – excessive and powerful movements of the lower arms, grip exersion, and torsion of the wrist. The tendon is aggravated by the resistance of wrist flexion, whereas tennis elbow is aggravated by the resistance of wrist extension.
The muscle groups that are affected by this condition are also used when you grip, so that’s why it might hurt when you go to grip your club or racket. The onset of the injury is often gradual and symptoms can persist for weeks or months, so it is better to be seen as soon as possible.
The pain and inflamation can be relieved though the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin, applying the P.O.L.I.C.E principle;
Protection – protect the forearm / elbow / wrist from being aggravated further
Optimal Loading – this means that rather than resting the elbow and waiting, recovery can be sped up by using the muscles affected at a restricted level to help stimulate the cells in the recovery process. This always prevents the muscles from weakening and shortening.
Ice – Use ice immediately after the injury occurs to prevent inflammation.
Compression – the use of a support or taping will help compress the affected area, immobilising and protecting it also.
Elevation – elevate the hand /arm immediately to reduce pain and blood flow to the injured area.
Physiotherapy is also encouraged as this can aid in the process of recovery and also rebuilding the muscles and tendon. This is through exercises that help extend the range of motion to the original state. Other treatments such as ultrasound, soft tissue release, deep frictions and acupuncture may also be used.
If you think that you might be struggling with Golfer’s elbow or similar injuries, you can use our Ask A Physio section for free advice or you can call us on 01282 453 110.