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Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer's Elbow | Orchard Health Clinic

What is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s Elbow or Medial Epicondylitis, causes pain and inflammation in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow. The pain centers on the bony bump on the inside of your elbow and may radiate into the forearm.

Despite the name, this condition does not just affect golfers. Any repetitive hand, wrist, or forearm motions can lead to Golfer’s Elbow. People may also get it from using tools like screwdrivers and hammers, raking, or painting. Golfer’s Elbow is not as well known as its cousin, Tennis Elbow. Both are forms of Elbow Tendonitis. The difference is that Tennis Elbow stems from damage to tendons on the outside of the elbow, while Golfer’s Elbow is caused by tendons on the inside. Golfer’s Elbow is also less common.

Causes of Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s Elbow is caused by damage to the muscles and tendons that control your wrist and fingers. The damage is typically related to excess or repeated stress especially forceful wrist and finger motions. Improper lifting, throwing or hitting, as well as too little warmup or poor conditioning, also can contribute to Golfer’s Elbow.

Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s Elbow is characterised by pain and tenderness that is usually felt on the inner side of your elbow, sometimes extending along the inner side of your forearm. Pain can come and go gradually, and typically worsens with certain movements such as swinging a golf club. The elbow may feel stiff, and making a fist might hurt. Weakness in your hands and wrists, as well as numbness and tingling sensations might be present.

Physical therapy is helpful for Golfer’s Elbow. Treatment program will include manual therapy to help the muscles regain full movement. Manual stretching will also be done for the shoulder and thoracic spine, as the tendons along the medial elbow can be affected by muscle imbalances all the way up the chain. Modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound therapy, Cryotherapy, and heat therapy may also be incorporated to assist with healing. Customised strengthening exercises and stretches will be prescribed as the pain subsides. Functional training will then be introduced as treatment progresses. If in doubt, seek professional advice.

Diagnosing Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and, if necessary, imaging studies. Here’s how healthcare professionals typically diagnose a golfer’s elbow:

  1. Medical History: The diagnostic process often begins with a discussion of your symptoms and medical  The healthcare provider will inquire about the onset and duration of elbow pain, any activities or movements that exacerbate the pain, and any previous injuries or medical conditions that may be relevant.
  2. Physical Examination: A physical examination of the affected elbow is performed to assess for signs of a golfer’s elbow. The healthcare provider may palpate the inner side of the elbow to identify areas of tenderness, swelling, or warmth. They may also evaluate the range of motion in the elbow joint and assess for any signs of weakness or instability.
  3. Imaging Studies: While a golfer’s elbow is typically diagnosed based on medical history and physical examination findings, imaging studies such as X-rays may be ordered to assess for any underlying structural abnormalities or rule out other causes of elbow pain, such as a fracture or arthritis. In rare cases, more comprehensive imaging studies, such as MRI, may be performed to evaluate soft tissue damage.

By combining information gathered from the medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies, healthcare professionals can accurately diagnose a golfer’s elbow and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Managing Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow can cause discomfort and restrict activities, but there are several self-care strategies that can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Here’s what may help:

  1. Rest: Resting the affected arm and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms can help reduce strain on the injured tendons and promote healing. Avoiding repetitive gripping, lifting heavy objects, and participating in sports that require forceful wrist movements can help prevent further irritation.
  2. Ice Therapy: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with golfer’s elbow. Ice packs or cold compresses can be applied to the elbow for 15-20 minutes several times a day,  especially after activities that aggravate symptoms.
  3. Compression: Using a compression bandage orbrace around the elbow can help reduce swelling and provide support to the injured tendons. Be sure not to wrap the bandage too tightly, as this can restrict blood flow and exacerbate symptoms.
  4. Elevation: Elevating the affected arm above heart level can help reduce swelling and promote circulation to the injured area. Prop pillows or cushions under the arm while resting to keep it elevated.
  5. Physical Therapy: Exercises and stretches can help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the elbow and surrounding muscles. A physical therapist can develop a customised exercise programme to address specific needs and promote recovery.
  6. Bracing or Splinting: Wearing a brace or splint around the elbow can help stabilise the joint and reduce strain on the injured tendons during activities. This can be particularly helpful during sports or repetitive tasks that aggravate symptoms.

With proper care and management, most cases of golfer’s elbow can be effectively treated, allowing you to return to your regular activities with minimal discomfort.

However, it’s still important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan for golfer’s elbow.

Strategies for Preventing Golfer’s Elbow

There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a golfer’s elbow. Here are some preventive measures:

  1. Proper Technique: Using proper technique and form biomechanics to minimise stress on the elbow.
  2. Gradual Progression: Avoid overexertion and sudden increases in activity level. Gradually increase the intensity, duration, and frequency of your workouts or activities to allow your muscles and tendons to adapt to the demands placed on them.
  3. Warm-Up and Stretching: Prior to engaging in physical activity, warm up with gentle exercises and stretches to prepare your muscles and tendons for Focus on stretching the muscles of the forearm, wrist, and hand to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Strength Training: Incorporate strength training exercises into your fitness routine to strengthen the muscles of the forearm, wrist, and hand. Focus on exercises that target grip strength, wrist flexion and extension, and forearm pronation and supination to improve muscle endurance and support the elbow joint.
  5. Proper Equipment: Use properly fitted equipment and gear that is appropriate for your size, strength, and skill level. Ensure that your golf clubs, tennis racket, or other sports equipment are the correct size and weight, and consider using equipment with vibration-dampening features to reduce stress on the elbow joint.
  6. Avoid Overuse: Avoid overusing your elbow and forearm muscles by taking regular breaks during repetitive activities. Alternate between different tasks or activities to give your muscles and tendons time to rest and recover.
  7. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any early warning signs of pain or discomfort in the elbow. If you experience pain, swelling, or tenderness, take a break from the activity causing the symptoms and allow time for rest and recovery.
  8. Seek Professional Guidance: If you’re new to a sport or activity, consider seeking guidance from a qualified instructor or coach who can teach you proper technique and form. They can also provide feedback and guidance to help you avoid overuse injuries and reduce the risk of developing a golfer’s elbow.

If you experience persistent pain or discomfort in the elbow, consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and golfer’s elbow treatment in Singapore.

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