Medial epicondylitis is commonly referred to as, ‘golfer’s elbow’. Basically it is a form of tendinitis that flares up on the inside region of the elbow. The inflammation occurs where the tendons located in the forearm muscles connect to the interior bony part of the elbow, The area pulls away and sustains micro-tears. Injury or irritation causes the area to become swollen and painful. It is not uncommon to suffer such discomfort that holding a cup of coffee becomes almost impossible.
Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
You may experience shooting pain up to the elbow or tingling. Once you start exhibiting symptoms of a golfers elbow you should seek medical advice from a doctor and physical therapist. Remember, the pain is not always localized to the elbow but can also spread down to the wrist and fingers.
Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness near the bony knob located on the outside of your elbow
- Muscle pain in the forearm
- Pain and discomfort in the upper and lower arm
- Pain when you place your palms upward, make a fist or grip an object
- Limited range of motion any time you lift your hand or try to flex your wrist
Understanding the Cause of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow is considered an overuse injury that is almost identical to tennis elbow. The constant use of the elbow causes fine micro-tears in the flexor muscles of the forearm.
The elbow pain occurs along the medial side of the arm by the elbow. The pain can radiate down to the forearm.
Yes, playing golf or tennis can both cause elbow problems. However, if you have golfer’s elbow then other things can cause a flare-up and discomfort in the elbow medial epicondyle. The following list of activities often causes a bout of golfer’s elbow.
- Improper form while golfing
- Weight lifting
- Use of household hand tools
- Racquet sports
- Playing a musical instrument
- Weight lifting
Golfers Elbow Treatment Options
Overuse of the elbow causes the painful condition called golfers elbow. However, simple stretching and exercises can offer hope of relief. Proper stretches can even help prevent future bouts of the disorder so you can enjoy the sport of golf long term.
- Anti-inflammatory Pain Reliever: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain meds such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are beneficial in easing the pain and discomfort.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist will offer a variety of stretching exercises and treatments to help improve your elbow.
- Elbow brace: An elbow brace cradles and protects it from further damage. It also reduces tendon and muscle stretch.
- Pressure: Pressure such as compression from an ace bandage offers support in much the same way as an elbow brace.
- Injections of platelet-rich plasma: Injection into the site of the injury using PRP helps the body heal naturally.
- Ice: Ice reduces inflammation and provides numbing.
Stretching Exercises for Golfer’s Elbow
Here are a few exercises that can help not only prevent but treat golfer’s elbow.
Wrist Extensor Stretch
Your wrist uses its extensor muscles to perform its range of motion.
- Extend your left arm so it is out in front of your body so your palm faces forward
- Use your right hand to bend the wrist downward until you feel a stretch in your forearm
- Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds
- Repeat the wrist extensions with the other arm
Wrist Flexor Stretch
There are six muscles in the wrist that work in unison. You can strengthen your muscles using this wrist stretch. .
- Position your right arm straight out in front of yo with the palm of your hand facing downwards
- Using your left hand, grab the fingers of your right hand and bend them backwards until you feel the stretch along the inside of your right forearm
- Hold the stretch for up to 15 seconds. Repeat as needed
The Towel Crush exercise improves your grip which is a bonus for an avid golfer because you want a firm grip on the nine iron so you can hit the ball with sufficient force. This exercise strengthens your grip and reduces pain. You can perform it seated or standing but you should be near a table where you can rest your forearm.
- Rest your forearm on a table while being either seated or standing
- Hold the rolled-up towel in your hand
- Squeeze the hold for ten seconds
- Repeat in a set of three of 10 reps
Reverse Wrist Curls
This is the same exercise as number five but in reverse. You will need a lightweight dumbbell that fits your hand nicely. A 1 to 2 pound weight will suffice. Make sure the weight fits your hand comfortably and is not too large in size.
- Stand or sit, whichever feels more comfortable.
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart
- Lay your arm on the tabletop
- Hold the dumbbell in an overhand grip
- Hang your wrist and hand off the table with your palm facing down
- Pull the dumbbell up by bending your wrist up and extending it upwards as high as possible
- Perform a set of 10 reps and then switch arms.
- Undergo three sets
Use a light 1-2 pound weight. Perform this exercise in a seated position by a table so you have arm support.
- Rest your elbow across your knee while sitting
- Hold the dumbbell in your hand at its end
- Twist your hand and wrist to the side so the dumbbell is being held at a 90-degree angle horizontally
- Hold the position for a second and then move it back up to the original vertical position
- Repeat 10 times in three sets
Finger Extensions And Thumb Abduction
Use a rubber band or a hair tie for this exercise. Make sure the band is an adequate size to fit snug around your fingers. You will need to position yourself in front of a table or counter top where you can rest your elbow.
- Place the band around all of your fingers
- Position the band just above your knuckles
- Rest your elbow on the arm of a chair or table
- Open your hand against the resistance of the band and then return to a closed position
- Hold your open position for a few moments
- Repeat in three sets and 10 reps for each hand
Those in the healthcare profession know the importance of combining strengthening exercises with other treatment options to prevent and treat golfer’s elbow. Each one of the above exercises will help ease your discomfort and prevent future problems.
You should take a stretch and strengthen approach so you can continue to perform daily tasks without pain. Some of the above treatment options should not be jumped to immediately. Before undergoing steroidal injections, you should try stretching exercises.
A physical therapist will outline additional rehab strategies best suited to your needs. With patience and adequate therapy, golfer’s elbow is a treatable condition.