Accessibility Tools
Golfer Elbow

Elbow  Anatomy

The elbow is a joint made up of three bones: the upper arm bone, the humerus, and the two forearm bones, the radius and ulna. The lower end of the humerus has bony prominences called epicondyles that serve as sites of attachment for major tendons and muscles that help in arm movement. The prominence on the inside of the elbow is called the medial epicondyle. It helps in the attachment of the tendons and muscles that help extend your fingers and wrist. 

What is Golfers Elbow?

Golfers elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, is a painful condition occurring from repeated muscle contractions in the forearm that leads to inflammation and microtears in the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle. 

Golfers elbow and tennis elbow are similar, except that golfers elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow and tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow.

Causes of Golfers Elbow

Golfers elbow is usually caused by the overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that control wrist and finger movement, but may also be caused by direct trauma such as a fall, car accident or work injury.

Golfers elbow is commonly seen in golfers; hence the name. Other common causes include any activity that requires repetitive motion of the forearm such as painting, hammering, typing, raking, pitching sports, gardening, shoveling, and fencing.

Signs and Symptoms of Golfers Elbow

The signs and symptoms of golfers elbow can include the following:

  • Achy pain to the inner side of the elbow during activity
  • Elbow stiffness with decreased range of motion
  • Pain that radiates to the inner forearm, hand or wrist
  • Increased pain while gripping objects
  • Increased pain in the elbow when the wrist is flexed or bent forward toward the forearm

Diagnosis of Golfers Elbow

Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a thorough physical examination of your elbow joint. Your physician may order an X-ray to rule out a fracture or arthritis as the cause of your pain. Occasionally, if the diagnosis is unclear, further tests such as MRI, ultrasonography and injection test may be ordered to confirm golfer’s elbow.

Treatment Options for Golfers Elbow

Conservative Treatment Options for Golfers Elbow

Your physician will recommend conservative treatment options to treat the symptoms associated with golfers elbow. These may include the following:

  • Activity restrictions: resting your arm from activities that worsen the symptoms.
  • Orthotics: Splints or braces may be ordered to decrease stress on the injured tissues.
  • Ice: Ice packs applied to the injury will help reduce swelling and pain. Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 20 minutes. Never place ice directly over the skin.
  • Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications and/or steroid injections may be ordered to treat the pain and swelling.
  • Occupational therapy: OT may be ordered for strengthening and stretching exercises once your symptoms have reduced.
  • Pulsed ultrasound: This is a treatment used by therapists to break up scar tissue and increase blood flow to the injured tendons and promote healing.
  • Professional instruction: Consulting a sports professional to assess and instruct in proper swing technique and appropriate equipment may be recommended to prevent recurrence.

Surgery for Golfers Elbow

If conservative treatment options fail to resolve the condition and symptoms persist for 6 - 12 months, your surgeon may recommend surgery to treat golfers elbow. The goal of surgery is to remove the diseased tissue around the inner elbow, improve blood supply to the area to promote healing and alleviate the symptoms.

Related Topics