Treatment Options for Golfer’s Elbow
- Injection – The doctor may inject medicine into the elbow near the medial epicondyle to reduce pain and inflammation.
What is Golfer’s Elbow?
The piece of bone that can be felt on the inner side of the elbow is called the medial epicondyle. When the tendons attached to this bone are overstretched or torn, they become inflamed and painful.
While commonly called golfer’s elbow, this ailment is not restricted to people who play golf. It can occur in tennis players and other people who repeatedly grip objects tightly.
The elbow is a hinge joint consisting of three bones that serve as the mechanical link between the upper arm and forearm. The normal range of motion of the elbow is zero degrees of extension (straightening) to 150 degrees of flexion (bending), although an arc of motion from 30 to 130 degrees is sufficient to perform most activities of daily life.
Elbow injuries are relatively common among athletes. Adolescents and older adults are most at risk — adolescents because their bones and ligaments are still growing, and older adults because their ligaments and tendons lose normal elasticity with age.
Golfer’s elbow is caused by overusing the flexor muscles of the forearms. Overusing these muscles can stretch or tear the tendons attached to the medial epicondyle.
Symptoms of golfer’s elbow:
- pain or tenderness on the inner side of the elbow
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, your recent physical activity, and how the injury occurred. You may not remember the event that caused the injury because golfer’s elbow pain develops over time.
Clinical Examination of golfer’s elbow:
The doctor will examine your elbow for:
- doing certain arm motions
- pressing on the medial epicondyle
- stiffness of elbow and pain with wrist movement
- make sure the bones of the elbow are normal
- look for a calcium deposit in the injured tendons
To reduce your risk of getting golfer’s elbow:
- Keep your arm muscles strong so they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.
- After a short warm-up period, stretch out your arm muscles before physical activity.
- Learn the proper technique for activities that require forearm motion.
Golfer’s Elbow Rehabilitation
As an athlete, your number one concern is getting back to full strength as soon as possible so that you can return to training and competition. That is why appropriate rehabilitation is extremely important. Rehabilitation for golfer’s elbow often includes the following:
- Take medicine to help reduce inflammation and pain.
The doctor may do an injection into the tendon attachment at the medial epicondyle to reduce pain and inflammation.
During the period when normal training should be avoided, alternative exercises may be used. These activities should not require any actions that create or intensify pain at the site of injury. They include:
- swimming (if pain allows)
- stationary bicycle
How Long will the Effects of my Injury Last?
Duration of effects varies significantly. Unless surgery is required, symptoms may diminish within 7 to 10 days and disappear in two or three weeks. Grip strength can return to normal in about the same time period. However, some cases requiring injection or surgical intervention may last for months. Keep in mind that recurrence of golfer’s elbow is common. It may take months for you to return to full activity and all symptoms to disappear.
When can I return to my Sport or Activity?
Some may be ready to golf in two weeks, others not for two months or more.
Remember: The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your activity is determined by how soon your golfer’s elbow recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred.
A good rule is to allow pain to dictate when you’re ready to return to activity. You should return in moderation, and back off if you feel any pain.