Golfers Elbow Explained

by Jon Stiffler PTA

What is Golfers Elbow?

The quick answer is Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis can be a debilitating condition that affects many different types of athletes, not just golfers. Golfers elbow is an overuse injury that occurs with gripping, excessive rotation of the arm, and/or excessive wrist flexion. 

The overuse can be a result of many factors such as decreased flexibility, decreased strength, and/or poor biomechanics with a specific sport or recreational activity. 

Many people have heard of tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, which is similar to golfers elbow. It should be known that you can get golfers elbow with other activities other than golf. 

JOI Golfer's ElbowTennis or Golfer's Elbow 

For instance, a tennis player can get golfers elbow from playing tennis. The big difference between golfers elbow and tennis elbow is that golfers elbow is felt on the inside of the elbow and tennis elbow is felt on the outside of the elbow. 

This is because your wrist flexors, which are what is inflamed with golfers elbow, originate on the inside of the elbow. Whereas your wrist extensors, which are what is inflamed with tennis elbow, originate on the outside of the elbow.

Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow:

  • Weakness in the hand or wristGolfer's ElbowGolfers Elbow
  • Numbness or tingling in the hand or wrist
  • Pain or tenderness on the inside of the elbow or inside of forearm
  • Difficulty gripping things

How is Golfer’s elbow treated?

Typically Golfer’s elbow is initially treated by addressing the inflammation associated with the injury. This typically includes things such as rest, ice, and over the counter NSAIDs. 

Sometimes inflammation cannot be reduced with over the counter NSAIDs and prescribed anti-inflammatory medications are required. 

In some instances patients try newer treatments such as PRP injections or Medical Laser to help reduce inflammation and aid in the inflammatory process. 

Once inflammation begins being addressed treatment typically consists of physical therapy or occupational therapy focused on improving wrist and forearm flexibility and strength in order to reduce the stress to the tendons of the wrist. 

A common treatment that may aid in improving flexibility is Graston Technique which is focused on reducing scar tissue formation and reducing myofascial restrictions in order to promote optimal tissue mobility and range of motion. 

With strengthening, exercises would be focused on improving wrist and forearm strength in order to allow for activities without increased stress to the tendons of the forearm/wrist resulting in inflammation. 

In the later stages of physical therapy or occupational therapy biomechanics specific to the sport or recreational activity may be analyzed in order to determine if there are any deficits which may be contributing to golfer’s elbow outside of general strength and flexibility deficits in the elbow, forearm, and/or wrist. 

For instance, with a golfer, their golf swing may be analyzed for any deficiencies.  Tennis and Golfer's Elbow Therapy can be done at any of the 12 JOI Rehab Locations. 

The Bottom Line

Although Golfer’s elbow can be a debilitating injury which can limit tolerance of ADL's, recreational activities, and sports, it should be known that there are many successful conservative treatment options to return one to these activities without limitations and reduced risk of injury/re-injury.  If you would like to learn more from the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute, call JOI-2000 or schedule online.

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