What is Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a common sports tendonitis injury where you experience pain at the point where your forearm muscle tendons attach to the inside of your elbow on the bony bump. The pain may radiate into your wrist and forearm. Medial epicondylitis is similar to tennis elbow, which affects the outside of your elbow, and involves inflammation. Golfers aren’t the only people to develop golfer’s elbow. Individuals like tennis players who clench their fingers and use their wrists repeatedly may also develop 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 warm up or poor conditioning, also can contribute to golfer’s elbow. Besides golf, many activities and occupations can lead to golfer’s elbow, including:
- Racket sports. Improper technique with tennis strokes, especially the backhand, can cause injury to the tendon. Excessive use of topspin and using a racket that’s too small or heavy also can lead to injury.
- Throwing sports. Improper pitching technique in baseball or softball can be another culprit. Football, archery and javelin throwing also can cause golfer’s elbow.
- Weight training. Lifting weights using improper technique, such as curling the wrists during a biceps exercise, can overload the elbow muscles and tendons.
- Forceful, repetitive occupational movements. These occur in fields such as construction, plumbing and carpentry
To cause golfer’s elbow, the activity generally needs to be done for more than an hour a day on many days.
Signs & Symptoms
With golfer’s elbow, the pain you have can happen suddenly or with time. If you have golfer’s elbow, you might have:
- Stiffness in your elbow
- Tenderness and pain, usually on the inner side of your elbow or the inner side of your forearm, but you could have pain with certain movements, like making a fist or swinging a golf club
- Tingling or numbness in your fingers (usually the ring and little fingers)
- Weakness in your hands and wrists
How can you tell if you have Golfer’s Elbow? Here are a couple of simple tests you can perform at home:
- This one tests to see if you have pain with contracting your wrist flexor muscles. Extend your arm out in front of you and pick up a gallon of milk or something equally as heavy with a straight elbow. If you have pain on the inside of the elbow (near the elbow bone) you could have Golfer’s Elbow.
- This one tests to see if you have pain with stretching your wrist flexor muscles. Extend your arm out in front of you with your elbow straight and your palm facing up. Then with the other hand slowly pull the fingers of your extended arm down towards the floor (extending your wrist) while keeping the elbow straight. If you have pain on the inside of the elbow (near the elbow bone) you could have Golfer’s Elbow.
Article by Chen Yan Xing
Physiotherapist from Your Physio