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Golfers Elbow Injury Physiotherapy Treatment

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What is a golfers elbow injury?

Golfers elbow or medial epicondylitis is an overuse injury similar to tennis elbow (on the outside of the arm) but causing pain on the inside of the elbow instead. It is sometimes known as throwers elbow or little league elbow. We explain the symptoms, causes, and treatment to return you back to full fitness in the shortest time.

Golfer’s elbow is a condition that causes pain where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. The pain might spread into your forearm and wrist.

Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, which occurs on the outside of the elbow. It’s not limited to golfers. Tennis players and others who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers also can develop golfer’s elbow.

The pain of golfer’s elbow doesn’t have to keep you off the course or away from your favorite activities. Rest and appropriate treatment can get you back into the swing of things.

Golfer’s elbow symptoms are characterized by:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of your elbow. Sometimes the pain extends along the inner side of your forearm. Pain typically worsens with certain movements.
  • Stiffness. Your elbow may feel stiff, and it may hurt to make a fist.
  • Weakness. You may have weakness in your hands and wrists.
  • Numbness or tingling. These sensations might radiate into one or more fingers — usually the ring and little fingers.

The pain of golfer’s elbow can come on suddenly or gradually. The pain might worsen when you:

  • Swing a golf club or racket
  • Squeeze or pitch a ball
  • Shake hands
  • Turn a doorknob
  • Lift weights
  • Pick up something with your palm down
  • Flex your wrist

Causes

Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, 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.

Many activities can lead to golfer’s elbow, including:

  • Golf. Gripping or swinging clubs incorrectly or too forcefully can take a toll on your muscles and tendons.
  • Racket sports. Excessive topspin can hurt your elbow. 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.

In addition, any activity that requires repeatedly bending and straightening your elbow can cause golfer’s elbow. This includes painting, raking, hammering, chopping wood, using a computer, doing assembly-line work and cooking. A day or two of yardwork or cooking for company usually won’t cause golfer’s elbow, though. The activity generally needs to be done for more than an hour a day on many days to cause a problem.

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Golfers elbow injury treatment

A physiotherapist or similar may use electrotherapy such as ultrasound or laser treatment to help reduce pain and inflammation and aid the healing process. Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen may be prescribed by a Doctor to reduce pain and inflammation.

Sports massage techniques may be applied to both the tendon and the connecting muscles. Cross friction massage to the tendon is sometimes used if the injury has become chronic or does not respond to initial rest and ice treatment. Applying sports massage to the muscles of the forearm can help reduce tension in the muscles improving their function which long-term should help reduce the strain on the tendon at the elbow.

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