With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, many Americans will once again be hitting the golf course. Unfortunately, this also means that golf-related injuries are bound to occur. One of the most common golf injuries is golfer’s elbow.
Dr. Francis Mendoza, NYC-based orthopaedic surgeon specializing in shoulder and elbow conditions, explains the injury, its symptoms, treatment options as well as tips to keep your elbows safe on the golf course.
What is golfer’s elbow?
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is an injury caused by damage to the muscles and tendons that control your wrist and fingers. The injury produces pain and tenderness where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. Golfer’s elbow is commonly caused by excess or repetitive stress, especially from forceful wrist and finger motions. While not all cases of golfer’s elbow are caused by playing golf, the repetitive movements involved in the sport make the injury quite common among golfers, which is what gave the condition its name.
What are the symptoms of golfer’s elbow?
Signs that you have golfer’s elbow may include:
- Pain and tenderness on the inside of the upper arm near the elbow
- Pain that extends along the inner side of your forearm
- Stiffness in the elbow
- Discomfort in the elbow when making a fist with your hand
- Weakness in the hands and/or wrists
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers (pinky and adjacent ring finger)
The pain associated with a golfer’s elbow injury may appear suddenly or gradually over time. An examination with an experienced orthopedist is the best way to identify the injury and learn about your treatment options before your symptoms get worse.
How is golfer’s elbow treated?
Fortunately, many cases of medial epicondylitis can be fully cured with nonsurgical treatments. Conservative medial epicondylitis treatments include resting, applying ice, taking anti-inflammatory medications and wearing a wrist splint. Stretching and strengthening exercises may be effective at assisting and even accelerating your recovery as well. In addition, a cortisone injection is another option that may provide pain relief in the affected elbow.
In more severe cases of medial epicondylitis, you may be a candidate for golfer’s elbow surgery. Surgery is only considered if nonsurgical treatment options have not been effective at improving your symptoms. One common type of surgery for golfer’s elbow is a medial epicondyle release.
Can you prevent golfer’s elbow?
While there’s no silver bullet for avoiding medial epicondylitis, taking certain precautions significantly reduces your risk for developing the injury.
The following tips are designed to keep your elbows safe, both on and off the golf course.
- Strengthen your forearm muscles
- Always stretch and warm up muscles before exercise
- Make sure you have proper form, grip and technique for the sport you’re practicing, be it golf or another activity
- Take a break from activity when you experience elbow pain
If you are experiencing elbow pain from golf or another activity, schedule an appointment today so you can be properly evaluated and learn about your treatment options. Remember that most patients with golfer’s elbow can be successfully treated with conservative options – no surgery needed!
We know just how important a pain-free round of 18 holes can be for passionate golfers. We look forward to helping you get back in the game with minimal downtime. Call our office at 212-628-9600 or fill out the form on this page to get started.