Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO
Golfer’s elbow is a painful elbow condition that sometimes develops in patients who perform a repetitive activity for two hours per day or more. While tennis elbow occurs when the forearm tendons on the outside of the elbow become painful and inflamed, golfer’s elbow is caused by pain and inflammation where the tendons attach on the inside of the elbow. This pain can radiate through the forearm and wrist, as well.
Golfer’s elbow can affect golfers, tennis players, and anyone else that uses repetitive wrist motions or frequently grips objects. Factory workers, for example, may be at increased risk for golfer’s elbow. Additional risk factors include being over the age of 40, being obese and smoking.
Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
Symptoms may include:
- Stiff elbow
- Weakness in the wrists or hands
- Numbness or tingling, which may radiate into the ring or little fingers
- Pain, inflammation and tenderness on the inside of the elbow.
- Pain may worsen with movements that rely on grip or elbow motion (e.g. handshakes, weightlifting, turning a door handle, etc.)
What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow may be caused by repetitive motions or excessive force. However, many cases of golfer’s elbow involve additional contributing factors that could be corrected with the help of a coach or trainer. For example, improper form or failing to warm up properly could exacerbate golfer’s elbow.
If you routinely do any activity that involves bending and straightening the elbow over and over, then you could be at risk. Be sure you understand proper form (whether typing, painting, working on an assembly line or golfing). Take breaks as needed.
Diagnosing Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow can usually be diagnosed during a physical examination by your sports medicine doctor or primary care provider. A review of your medical history, as well as a manual test of your elbow, wrist and forearm may also lead to answers. In some cases, an x-ray may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of elbow pain.
Treating Golfer’s Elbow
Simple rest/ice therapy can often help with golfer’s elbow. Additionally, your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter drug like ibuprofen to help with pain and swelling. Some patients may benefit from wearing a brace. Stretching and strengthening exercises can be especially useful for reducing pain and restoring mobility. Surgery is rarely necessary.
Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor
Are you experiencing elbow pain? Schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics to get the care you need. Call (713) 756-5546, or schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.