What is it, what causes it, and how can you treat it?
Golfer's elbow is one of the most common injuries for golf players. It is also one of the most painful injuries that a golfer can feel. It affects the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle and the tendon that attaches to it. In this blog, we look at what exactly golfer's elbow is, how you can avoid it, and what you can do if you have it.
What is Golfer's Elbow?
Golfer's elbow is a painful condition that affects the tendons in the elbow and causes inflammation. It's most common in people who play golf and it's usually caused by repetitive movements. If you've had golfer’s elbow, it's likely you've felt a dull ache in your elbow that doesn't go away. The pain is caused by an irritation of the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to your elbow and forearm bones. The tendons get inflamed and swell, which can cause pain or restrict elbow movement. Golfer's elbow is also called medial epicondylitis, or epicondylitis medialis. It's more common in people who play golf, but it can also happen to people who do other repetitive activities.
What causes golfer's elbow?
When you play golf, you use three muscles in your forearm to rotate your hand and wrist in a circular motion. These muscles, called the forearm flexors, start just below your elbow and run through your forearm and into your hand. If you have golfer’s elbow, these muscles are inflamed and swollen, causing pain and restricting movement. There are three ways that golfer’s can develop golfer’s elbow: overuse, trauma, and acute injury. As its name suggests, overuse is one of the most common causes of golfer’s elbow. Overusing your muscles can cause tiny tears in the muscles and tendons, which is what happens when you play golf.
A single traumatic event can also cause golfer’s elbow, such as falling on your outstretched arm or grabbing something too tightly with your hand. Finally, in some cases, you can develop a golfer’s elbow from acute trauma, such as a direct impact or a fall.
What are the most common signs and symptoms?
Golfing involves the same repetitive use of the same muscles over time. Overusing your muscles can cause tiny tears in the muscles and tendons, which is what happens when you play golf. This overuse can be exacerbated by failing to stretch before playing, as well as not following proper recovery after playing a round.
A single traumatic event can also cause golfer’s elbow, such as falling on your outstretched arm or grabbing something too tightly with your hand. In some cases, you can develop golfer’s elbow from acute trauma, such as from a direct impact or from a fall.
The pain is felt in the inner elbow, but can spread to the wrist, forearm and sometimes fingers. You might feel pain when you make a fist or bend your wrist or fingers. You may even feel it in your shoulder. It is caused by inflammation of the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow. The pain usually worsens when you lift your arm, and you may find it hard to lift. This can affect your ability to play golf or tennis, and even doing simple tasks like hanging out the washing can be a problem.
How long does it take to get better?
The first thing to realize is that every individual is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. This means you must take your own experience and feedback as your guide and then adapt the treatment accordingly.
That said, some general guidelines can be given for the time it takes to get over golfer's elbow. If you have just started to experience symptoms, you can begin treatment immediately.You can often get better in a few days or weeks when you have a mild strain or sprain. It depends on how severe the injury is and how much rest you get.
If the injury is a strain, and the muscle is stretched or torn, you may need to rest it for a few days. Rest means taking the weight off the muscle for a few days. You may need to take painkillers for a day or two. You may notice that your arm is weaker for up to a week after the injury. The elbow is a complex joint with many tendons and muscles in the forearm, so it can take months to recover fully. It is essential to be patient and give your arm time to heal fully.
If you repeatedly get golfer’s elbow, or your treatment doesn’t get better after several weeks, it is critical to see your doctor. They will review your health history and activities and perform a physical exam. In addition, your doctor may order an x-rate to rule out other conditions.
For more serious injuries, physical therapy may be necessary. This is an essential step in recovery and can require 3-6 months of consistent treatment. While it can be very frustrating, the work is ultimately worth it for serious athletes. Not taking the proper steps for recovery could result in repeat injuries or a decline in your overall game.
How to avoid golfer's elbow.
To avoid this problem in the future, be sure to stretch before all physical activity, not just a game of golf. Also, talk to your doctor about exercises that strengthen your forearm muscles. But, most importantly, don’t overuse your elbow; take a break if you notice discomfort while playing golf.
If you are currently experiencing golfer’s elbow, or have experienced it in the past, schedule a consultation with Prime Condition today.