What is the Golfer's elbow?
Golfer's elbow is a condition that affects the tendons of the forearm on the inside of your elbow. You may feel pain or tenderness over the bony prominence on the inside (epicondyle) of elbow.
What are the causes of Golfer's elbow?
- Commonly due to repetitive strain of the elbow or the forearm muscles
- Although it is called Golfer's elbow, it is not always associated with golf
What the signs and symptoms?
- Pain over the inside of the elbow
- Pain increases with lifting, carrying or gripping activities
- Tenderness (painful to touch) over the bone on the inside of the elbow
How do I manage this problem?
In order to reduce the pain you should avoid aggravating activities which encourages tissue healing and a return to normal daily activities. Strengthening is then important to prevent further episodes. The following advice will help to achieve this:
- Rest: This may help to avoid aggravation as well as encouraging tissue healing at first.
- Activity modification: Avoid strenuous activities such as lifting/gripping of the affected forearm where possible in the first few days. If unavoidable, take adequate breaks and slowly return to gentle and pain free activities.
- Ice pack: This will reduce potential swelling and bleeding and ease the pain. Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas in a damp towel and apply to the area for a maximum of 15 minutes. This can be repeated every 3 hours. Avoid applying ice directly to the skin.
- Medications: Simple anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen or pain-killers like paracetamol may offer short term relief but we strongly advise you to consult a doctor or pharmacist before using any medications if you have any other medical problems.
- Strengthening exercises: Specific strengthening and stretching exercises are very helpful to manage golfer's elbow. Please find attached exercise sheet.
- Elbow clasp/brace: This may help to reduce the effort of the affected muscles reducing pain during most activities. The brace should be worn 2-3 centimetres below the elbow joint.
What other treatments are available?
If your symptoms fail to improve with all the above you may see your GP to get stronger anti-inflammatory medications.
- Physiotherapy: Your physiotherapist may show you specific stretching and strengthening exercises which will be helpful to improve your symptoms. Your physiotherapist may use massage, manipulation or acupuncture to improve your symptoms.
- Acupuncture or dry needling: This may be useful in reducing pain along with other treatments.
- Corticosteroid injection: If your symptoms fail to improve over 3-6 months of physiotherapy and other self-management measures, injection of steroids around the tendon attachment may help your symptoms.
- Surgery: Surgery is rarely considered for Golfer's elbow.