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Golfer's Elbow

What Is Golfer’s Elbow?


Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a painful condition of the inside of the elbow often caused by overuse of the muscles. 


Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow- which occurs on the outside of the elbow. Like it’s name suggests, golfer’s elbow is common in golfers however it is not limited to those who play golf. It can occur in tennis players or people who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers, putting excess stress on the muscles. Improper lifting, throwing or repetitive movements like using gardening shears can contribute to the condition. 



What Are The Common Causes of Golfer’s Elbow?


  • Poor technique with weight training, such as bending the wrist when doing a biceps curl, can overload the elbow muscles and tendons.

  • Racquet sports. Having improper technique with your strokes or having a racquet that is too small or too heavy can lead to injury.

  • Throwing sports. Having improper pitching technique in baseball, softball or cricket can predispose you to this injury.

  • Repetitive movements of the wrist during work. This is common in physical jobs such as construction, plumbing, carpentry or even gardening


It commonly occurs in those who are aged between 30 and 50. The dominant arm is most often affected but it can occur in either arm. It affects the muscles in your forearm that attach to the inside of your elbow. These muscles work to bend your wrist. The muscles become inflamed, and in more extreme cases you can get microtears.


Unfortunately this condition is quite slow to heal, as the tendon has a poor blood supply. Recovery time can take anywhere from a few months to two years. 


Symptoms Of Golfer’s Elbow


Some cases of golfer’s elbow don’t have a specific injury that provokes symptoms. However, the symptoms usually develop gradually- starting off mild, and worsening over weeks and months.

  • You will feel pain or a burning sensation on the inside of your elbow

  • You may feel weaker in your hands and wrists

  • Gripping will be painful

  • You may get pain at night

  • You may have pain with everyday activities such as carrying the groceries, cleaning, writing or typing


Treatment Of Golfer’s Elbow


1. Rest 

Once you figure out what your aggravating activities are, you will have to take a break or modify them as much as possible to allow the arm to rest. This may mean stopping sport or heavy work activities for a number of weeks.


Anti-inflammatories can be taken to help reduce the pain and swelling. 


2. Ice

Ice can be applied to help numb the pain and reduce swelling. You can also apply a heat pack for 20 mins before bed to help promote blood flow to the area and relax the muscles.


3. Brace

Wearing a brace can also help in alleviating your pain. The elbow guard wraps around your forearm just below the elbow to help reduce the load placed on the tendons where they attach. This reduces the pressure, provides the arm with more support and helps alleviate the pain.


4. Physiotherapy

Surgery may be required in more severe cases, for example those who have significant muscle tears and are not responding to a conservative approach. It is recommended to try conservative methods for at least 6 months before considering surgery. If symptoms still persist and you go ahead with surgery, you will need to undergo a comprehensive physiotherapy rehabilitation program to help you return to your activities and sport as quickly as possible after surgery. 



How Can Physiotherapy Help With Golfer’s Elbow?


Physiotherapy treatment will involve joint mobilisations and soft tissue massage to loosen up the muscles and promote blood flow to the area. We also use ultrasound, hot or cold packs and TENS for pain relief. You will be prescribed a comprehensive exercise program that will consist of specific stretches and strength work so that your muscles are better able to cope with the demands placed on them. We will give you valuable advice on how you can modify your aggravating activities to prevent the condition from recurring. If appropriate, we can provide you with an elbow guard that you can wear during the day for extra support and to take the pressure off the affected area. We will also advise you on your gradual return to sport, and will provide you with an alternative program until you are fit to return to your normal exercise or sporting activity.



Preventing Golfer’s Elbow


Find The Root Of The Activity Contributing To Pain

Modify any activities that could be contributing to your pain. This may mean taking more regular breaks when gardening or typing. Speak to your physiotherapist about what modifications you can make. Knowing when to rest will help prevent overuse of the muscles. 


Correct Movement & Form Of Activity

In order to reduce the risk of developing golfer’s elbow, it is important to correct your movement techniques with sport or every day activity. Have your sport instructor or coach check your form to ensure you are not overloading the muscle. When lifting weights, keep your wrist rigid and stable in a neutral position to reduce the force on your elbow.


Regular Stretching and Strengthening Of Muscles Impacted

Regular stretching of the forearm muscles is important to reduce muscle tightness or tension. You should perform your stretches before and after sport or heavy physical activity. Strengthening of the forearm muscles is vital so that they are able to cope with the load and demands placed on them. Your physiotherapist will recommend the best exercises for you, these may include using light weights or squeezing putty to build up grip strength. 



If Pain Persists, Contact A Physiotherapist

If you are suffering from golfer’s elbow or have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we would be more than happy to help! Give us a call on 9875 3760 or email us info@wphphysio.com.au.



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You do not need a Doctors' referral in order to make an appointment with a Physiotherapist

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