What is Golfer's Elbow?
The medical term for golfer's elbow is Medial Epicondylitis. When broken down this term means inflammation in the tendon at the medial epicondyle, which is the bony prominence on the inside of the elbow. Golfer's elbow is an overuse injury involving the group of muscles in the forearm that are involved with gripping, flexing the wrist and rotating the palm down. These muscles originate in the elbow and attach to the bone through the tendon.
Over time the condition can progress to a chronic tendonosis characterized by degenerative changes, including small tears, in the tendon. Tendons, by nature, have a poor blood supply which leads to a slow healing process.
Causes of Golfer's Elbow:
Despite it's name, you don't have to be a golfer to get golfer's elbow. Since it's an overuse injury, the culprit is often a repetitive or jarring activity that you aren't used to or that you did for longer than usual. The onset is often gradual, but frequently people remember a triggering event when they first experienced elbow pain. Because the involved muscles are activated whenever you use your hand, pain can increase over time even with light activities, like washing your face.
Golfer's Elbow Symptoms:
The most common symptom of golfer's elbow is pain at the medial epicondyle that can radiate down into the forearm. The medial epicondyle is often sore to touch. You may experience pain at rest that increases with activity. You may also notice weakness in your grip and arm with daily activities, especially with lifting. Occasionally people may have swelling at the inner elbow, but this is not common.
Golfer's Elbow Treatment Myths:
"I can't lift anything, I need to do strengthening exercises."
Even though you feel weak, strengthening exercises should not be started until your pain symptoms have decreased. Adding resistance to an inflamed tendon stresses it and can increase your symptoms. The video has an entire section on golfer's elbow exercises. They are separated into phases that you slowly progress through as your symptoms improve during daily activities.
- "What's the quick cure for golfer's elbow?"
As experts in hand therapy, we know there's no quick fix to cure golfer's elbow. The rehab process takes time, patience, and dedication. Irritating activities should be recognized and altered to decrease the strain on the tendon and minimize pain. Treat Yourself Therapy's video gives you insight into which activities are causing your golfer's elbow symptoms and makes recommendations to allow you to get through a day with less pain.
- "No pain, no gain, right?"
The phrase "no pain, no gain" has no place in treating golfer's elbow. Pain is your body's way of telling you that an activity is stressful. If an activity creates pain at your inner elbow or forearm, you need to modify the task to do it without pain or stop doing it. Working through pain can actually make your symptoms worse by stressing the tendon and preventing it from healing. The golfer's elbow exercise video teaches you to respect pain, to listen to your body, and offers modifications so you can safely resume your daily activities.
What is a Golfer's Elbow Strap?
An elbow strap is a counterforce band worn on the upper forearm to help treat golfer's elbow. The strap minimizes the strain on the tendon during arm use. It should be worn when actively using your arm but not during inactivity, for example when sleeping or watching a movie. The video discusses this further and teaches you the proper way to wear the strap.
Should You Wear a Golfer's Elbow Brace?
A wrist brace or splint is occasionally used to treat medial epicondylitis. The splint keeps the wrist in a neutral position, allowing the wrist muscles to rest. Newer research suggests that when wearing a splint, the muscles still contract when using your hand. A splint acts as a good reminder to limit your hand use but it's important to remember that you're muscles are still working. If you are wearing a brace for golfer's elbow, make sure to remove it every hour to move your wrist. This will help to prevent stiffness. The golfer's elbow exercise video covers in detail when it's appropriate to wear a brace and gives tips for a proper fit.
An amazing amount of information! Treat Yourself Therapy has taken great care to ensure their instructions were clear and concise, which allowed me to perform the exercises properly in a short amount of time. There's no doubt the golfer's elbow video has improved my quality of life.
Mike, Lafayette, LA
I have reviewed all of Treat Yourself Therapy's videos. I find the information to be accurate, up to date, and valuable for people with these conditions. I am recommending them to my patients.
G.M.Holcomb, D.O., Lake Orion, MI