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Golfer's Elbow

 
 
 
 
Golfer's Elbow - Why does this happen?
 

Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylopathy) affects the muscles on the inner part of the elbow.   Muscles in the forearm, which flex the wrist, attach via a tendon to a bony area on the inner part of the elbow.

 
 
 
 
 

Golfer’s Elbow is a condition where the tendon attachment degenerates or becomes inflamed due to micro-tears in the tissue.  This is due to over use of the wrist flexor muscles involved in gripping activities such as golf, throwing and gardening.

 
 
  
 
What are the symptoms?
 
  • Pain and tenderness around the inside of the elbow.
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  • A 'dull' ache after gripping.
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  • The 'dull' ache developing into sharp, intense pain which can radiate into the forearm when gripping objects.
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  • Pain is relived after a period of rest.
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  • After a period of rest there is stiffness in the elbow. 
 
 
Diagnosing Golfer's Elbow
 
Your GP or Physiotherapist can usually diagnose Golfer's Elbow simply by examining your arm, knowing where your pain is and how it started.
 
X-rays and other investigations are not usually necessary.
 
 
 
What is the treatment?
 
 
A Golfer's Elbow  will usually recover with some simple changes to activity and exercise.  By trying to avoid or reduce the activity which causes the pain, the damaged tendon is given time recover and heal. 
 
To help reduce the symptoms an 'ice pack' can be placed on the painful area for 15 - 20 minutes, twice a day.  Do not place the 'ice pack' directly on the skin.  Wrap the 'ice pack' in a damp towel before placing on the painful area to ensure you do not burn the skin.
 
During the initial painful stages it is important to manage the pain.  
 
 
Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications  -  These may be prescribed by your GP if the pain is constant.  This is a temporary measure to break the pain cycle, but can continue as required.
 
Exercise  -  Exercise is useful to help stretch the muscles in the forearm as the injury heals. Once the pain has settled it is important to strengthen the surrounding muscles to help prevent  reoccurrence.  Improving muscle balance will help relieve the symptoms. It is very important not to force movement through the pain.  Click here for a list of exercises suitable for a Golfer's Elbow.
 
Ergonomics  -  If sitting at your desk and using your computer causes pain in your elbow ensure your workstation is set up correctly to avoid strain on the muscles.  If you experience pain when lifting or carrying you should change how you use the arm to avoid flexion of the wrist.
 
Injections  -  In some cases your GP or Consultant may recommend an injection. These can be used to reduce inflammation and pain when the symptoms are severe and constant.  This is not a 'cure' and it is important to follow the exercises and modify activities.  A 'Cortisone Injection' can help reduce inflammation in the tendon, whilst a 'PRP Injection' (Platelet Rich Plasma) can help to stimulate healing. 
 
Physiotherapy  -  If exercise alone does not improve symptoms then physiotherapy treatment may be required.  A physiotherapist can use specific treatments including, ultrasound, deep friction, massage, interferential, acupuncture or taping to help relieve pain and aid recovery.  Click here for more information about Physiotherapy.
 
Surgery  -  This is not common for Golfer's Elbow.  In some cases when symptoms are slow to resolve by the treatments above, surgery may be considered.   
 
 
Remember an important part of treatment for Golfer's Elbow is your home exercises and modifying activities.