Frequently Asked Questions About Golfer’s Elbow

  • Posted on: May 9 2023
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Although a round of golf can ease your mind and lift your spirits, too much of a good thing can have the reverse effect. Chronic overuse of your elbow tendons and muscles can lead to a painful, potentially debilitating tendinitis disorder known as golfer’s elbow. However, this condition can plague you even if you’ve never touched a golf club.

If your elbow, forearm, or hand has started giving you trouble, you need to know what kind of damage causes golfer’s elbow, what it feels like, and how orthopedic treatment can help. The following frequently asked questions and answers should put you on the right track.

What Does Golfer’s Elbow Involve?

Doctors refer to golfer’s elbow by its medical name, medial epicondylitis. Your elbow has two bony bumps called epicondyles that serve as attachment points for the tendons of the forearm. The medial epicondyle sits on the inner surface on the elbow, with the lateral epicondyle on the outer surface.

In golfer’s elbow, constant overuse of the tendons attached to the medial epicondyle produces tears in the tissue. As the overuse continues, the damage accumulates, leading to chronic tendinitis. While the condition commonly strikes golfers,  90 percent  of golfer’s elbow cases stem from other kinds of repetitive motion activities outside of sports.

You might confuse golfer’s elbow with tennis elbow, especially since both count as a form of epicondylitis. However, while golfer’s elbow involves the epicondyle and tendons of the inner elbow, tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, develops along the outer surface of the elbow.

What Symptoms Can Golfer’s Elbow Cause?

Golfer’s elbow symptoms typically start with pain along the inner side of the elbow whenever you twist the hand or wrist on the affected arm. Efforts to grasp and hold objects can also trigger golfer’s elbow pain. You may notice that pain feels more intense early in the day.

As the tendinitis progresses, so can your symptoms. Your elbow pain may grow more severe while also spreading to your forearm or wrist. Tingling or numbness may accompany this pain. Your forearm and hand may also lose strength, with the combination of weakness and pain making the arm all but unusable.

What Treatments Can Help Golfer’s Elbow?

Thankfully, orthopedic specialists can use a variety of treatment techniques to get your elbow back into working order. If a bone scan or digital imaging confirms a golfer’s elbow diagnosis, your doctor will first prescribe rest to put an end to the damage. Ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and bracing may also help.

If you still struggle with golfer’s elbow in spite of these measures, your orthopedic specialist can move on to other conservative treatment techniques. Corticosteroid injections may relieve inflammation and swelling. Physical therapy can help injured tendons repair themselves more efficiently.

Even the most stubborn golfer’s elbow can respond well to surgery. In this treatment option, your orthopedic surgeon opens the area over the medial epicondyle and then trims away scar tissue, bone spurs, or frayed tendons that can’t heal normally. The surgeon then reattaches the remaining healthy tissue to the epicondyle.

How Can You Avoid Golfer’s Elbow Going Forward?

If you want to avoid future bouts of golfer’s elbow, you need to address the underlying factors that first created the problem. For instance, you may need to modify your sports training regimen or golf swing. If your job led to your golfer’s elbow, you may need to create a more ergonomic work environment.

Whether you developed golfer’s elbow through work or through play, you can reduce the odds of its recurrence by warming up your muscles and tendons before starting your activity. Your doctor can recommend stretching exercises to limber and relax the tissues, making them less prone to chronic strain injuries.

Maximum Orthopedics can provide the evaluation, treatment, and guidance you need to overcome golfer’s elbow and keep the condition at arm’s length.  Contact our office  to request an appointment.

Posted in: Blog, Orthopedics, Work Injuries, Workers Compensation Benefits

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