Golfers elbow is a term used to describe pain on the inside of the arm. Although it is commonly seen in golf, this injury is not limited to those who play the sport, or any sport at all. Also known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow is frequently diagnosed in baseball players due to repetitive throwing.
Middle-aged male laborers, those who repeatedly use hand tools, carry heavy objects, or engage in repetitive tasks such as playing violin may be prone to the injury as well. It also is common in women around the age of menopause due to changes in estrogen levels that may cause thickening of the sheath around the tendons. Golfer’s elbow is less common than its cousin, ‘tennis elbow’ (aka lateral epicondylitis).
What Is Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is characterized by pain from the inside of the elbow to the wrist, on the palm side of the forearm. Pain is caused by irritation of the tendons that bend the palm toward the wrist, and turn the palm down. Using incorrect equipment or technique, as well as a sudden change in activity or intensity, can cause this repetitive stress and strain.
You may notice tenderness around the bony part on the inside of your elbow, tightness in your forearm, pain with gripping and lifting objects, weakness in your hands and wrists, and difficulty with daily activities.
What are the Treatments?
According to the literature, most individuals improve with a corticosteroid injection combined with therapy. Conservative management may include modalities as well as focused wrist flexor & pronator muscle strengthening.
Patients will then progress to a sport-specific or work-specific training program with a focus on proper technique and mechanics to avoid reinjury. Heat, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication can be used to treat symptoms during the healing process.
What is the Prognosis?
Recovery from medial epicondylitis is quite good. In most patients, medial epicondylitis resolves within 6 months of conservative treatment but may take up to 2 years. Few patients will need to progress to steroid injection and even fewer, less than 10%, will need surgical intervention. Surgical treatment should only be considered if conservative treatment has failed after 6-12 months and all other pathology has been excluded.
I Have Pain, What Should I Do?
If you are experiencing the symptoms described above, give one of our Armworks clinics a call or schedule an appointment online. We have very knowledgeable Certified Hand Therapists at each of our five clinics who can treat your injury and get you back into doing the activities enjoy.