Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) is a common overuse injury that causes pain on the inside of your elbow. Muscles in the forearm that bend and rotate the wrist towards you attach at the inside of your elbow. These muscles, together called the flexor pronator group, allow you to curl your fingers and bend your wrist for gripping.
Repeated use of the forearm muscles can cause inflammation or irritation to the attachment at the inside of the muscles. Overuse can occur during certain sport activities including golf, racquet sports, bowling and throwing, and symptoms often worsen with activities such as shaking hands, grasping an item, playing sports, or opening a jar.
Signs & Symptoms
Common signs and symptoms of golfer's elbow include:
- Pain/tenderness along your medial (inner side) of your elbow
- Pain with gripping
- Stiffness in your elbow specifically with wrist extension
- Weakness in your elbow or hand
- Potential numbness and tingling into your hand
While golfer's elbow affects a variety of different people some have a greater risk of experiencing it, including those who are:
- Over the age of 40
- Overweight/obese individuals
- Play sports that require a lot of forces through the elbow, wrist, and hand (ie: golf, tennis, weight lifting, baseball, etc.)
Therapy and rest can help you modify your work and sport activities. Treatment duration will differ from individual to individual. The first step of any overuse injury is to modify activities that are leading to the current condition. An ergonomic set-up/evaluation is vital if there are any predisposing factor leading to increases in stress of the elbow, wrist, or hand.
Equipment, training, and technique advice can also help you recover and avoid injury. You will also learn a home program for gradual strengthening and stretching of the wrist flexors. You may also be instructed to use a wrist brace or tape the arm.
There are various things you can do to decrease the risk of experiencing golfer's elbow, including:
- Proper warm-up/stretching prior to activities that require a lot of stress through the elbow, wrist, and hand
- Proper ergonomic set-up within the workplace
- Correcting muscle imbalances, specifically within the elbow, wrist, and hand
- Avoiding overuse activities
- Using proper form throughout sporting activities
Will I need surgery?
Surgery is not the first line of defense for these injuries, but for those individuals that have not had relief from 6–12 months of non-surgical treatment, they can undergo an arthroscopic procedure to remove scar tissue to alleviate pain.
Why is it called golfer’s elbow?
Golfer’s elbow got its name as many golfers started to get this disorder from the shear forces they experience through the elbow, wrist, and hand, specifically in the downswing.
What is the difference between Golfer's and Tennis Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow (aka medial epicondylitis) primarily affects the muscle that flexes your wrist, while tennis elbow (aka lateral epicondylitis) affects the muscle that extends your wrist.