02 May Golfer’s Elbow
It’s not just caused by playing golf! I’ll explain what it is and how to treat it.
What is it?: Golfer’s Elbow is an overuse injury of the forearm tendons that attach to the inner part of the elbow. Its proper term is medial epicondylitis.
The cause: It is usually caused by activities that require repetitive gripping, bending your wrist, or turning your palm such as golf, painting or knitting. Poor technique or equipment can contribute to the cause, as well as your shoulder position or posture by putting your wrist and elbow in a poor position to start.
Signs & symptoms: Pain usually starts gradually overtime and your elbow can feel stiff in the morning. It is tender to touch just below the inner side of your elbow especially around 1-2cm from the bony bit. You may feel pain on activities I mentioned before as well as start to develop weakness in your grip.
Confirm diagnosis: A physio can usually confirm your diagnosis from the symptoms you describe and a few tests including pain on resisted wrist flexion & pronation. An ultrasound may also be helpful in confirming the diagnosis but isn’t always necessary.
How to treat it: In the initial stages the goal is to decrease your pain so massage and icing can help, but also limiting the action that you think may have contributed to it. Looking at your technique, in particular, your posture and shoulder position will be important, as well as checking your equipment is the right fit.
Early on you should start some isometric exercises. An isometric exercise is when you contract your muscle without moving your joint and the one I usually recommend for golfer’s elbow is resisting while you bend your elbow either with your other hand or under a table for 10-30 secs, 10 times, twice a day. As your pain settles you can progress to more specific strength exercises for your wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
Products: A counterforce brace can be beneficial for symptoms especially if you are unable to limit your activity, or when returning to activity. A compression sleeve can also help to decrease pain. Both options should be discussed with your physio first.
Recovery time: In severe cases, it can actually take several months to recover so it is better to get on top of it rather than just hope that it will go away. To find a physio in your area of Australia or New Zealand click here.