Golfer's elbow is also known as medial epicondylitis, a type of tendonitis. It is a condition where the tendons attaching to the elbow can become painful and inflamed. Golfer’s elbow affects the inside of the elbow and doesn't just affect golfers, but anyone that repeatedly uses their wrists and fingers in a clenched or closed fist manner. Tennis elbow is a similar condition, affecting the outside area of the elbow.
Golfer’s elbow is caused by repetitive use of the forearm muscles, through twisting and gripping activities that cause you to bend and open your wrist and hand repetitively.
With Golfer’s elbow, you get pain on the inside of your elbow that may be painful to touch. The pain is often located just below where the elbow bends but can extend down the forearm into the wrist. People have difficulty with twisting or gripping activities such as opening jars, or as the name suggests - playing golf.
It is really important when suffering from golfer's elbow to rest the elbow as soon as you start developing any pain. The more overuse of your elbow, the longer it will be to improve. It's really important to stretch and warm up properly before exercise. When you are using your equipment make sure it is the right equipment with the right grip and support so that it reduces the load on your elbow. Your elbow can also be supported by ensuring you are lifting through stable wrists. You can try simple exercises to strengthen the muscles in your forearm, so they are better prepared to absorb any physical stress.
Once the pain is beginning to subside, it is important to gradually return to your activity, and be careful not to overuse it.
Using ice to reduce any inflammation and then adding over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be very helpful. Physiotherapy is really useful to help strengthen the muscles and improve the range of pain-free movement around the elbow. You can also try an elbow brace from a trusted supplier to help reduce strain on your elbow.
Steroid injections have little place in long-term improvement of golfer's elbow but may provide some short-term benefit. If the problem persists for more than several months and all other treatment options have failed, your doctor may refer you to a bone and joint doctor called an orthopaedic surgeon, who may consider surgical options.
Golfer’s elbow will usually improve with rest and some self-treatment over a few weeks but can take a few months to totally resolve. In some chronic cases, it can take years and cause ongoing symptoms on and off.
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