Summer is coming to a close, meaning many of us have been outside playing sports for the past few months. One of the most common injuries at this time of year is elbow injuries – often Golfer’s Elbow.
After months of playing golf, many people find they begin to have elbow pain and stiffness. This can sometimes be typical soreness, but sometimes it can be an issue with the tendons in the elbow known as Media Epicondylitis, or Golfer’s Elbow.
Golfer’s Elbow is the second most common elbow injury after Tennis Elbow. It’s more common in amateur golfers than professional, as it often stems from an incorrect use of the club or poor golf swings.
Physiotherapy for Golfer’s Elbow is an important part of treatment for this condition. It can help you eliminate the pain caused by it and get you back to your regular level of functioning.
Causes of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s Elbow is caused by the overuse of muscles that flex the wrist and pronate the forearm. This overuse causes damage, often in the form of tears, in the tendon structure. The pronator teres and flexor carpi radial muscle tendons are often involved, although the ulnar nerve can also be involved and cause severe pain.
Micro tears may be present in the tendons before symptoms are present. This is why as soon as you feel pain or discomfort in your elbow, it’s important to visit your doctor or physiotherapist to have it assessed. If you let the pain worsen for too long, the damage to your tendons could be irreversible.
In golfers, this injury is often caused by having poor form during your golf swing, or hitting the ground or a stump when you swing your club. However, this injury is also common in people who don’t golf. Any motion that uses repetitive gripping, lifting, throwing, or vibration can cause Golfer’s Elbow. Activities like hammering, gardening, and shoveling can all cause Golfer’s Elbow. Muscle imbalances and joint instability can also contribute.
Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms
There are many different symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow:
- soreness to the touch on the inside of the elbow
- an aching pain in your elbow and forearm
- pain with wrist flexing and turning your forearm inward (pronation)
- decreased grip strength
- pain during throwing
- pain with regular activities such as turning a doorknob, shaking hands, or picking up objects
If all or some of these symptoms are present, your physiotherapist can diagnose Golfer’s Elbow. They perform a variety of tests to measure function, strength, pain, and tenderness by observing how you grip items and respond to various touches in your elbow area. For example, physiotherapists can position the wrist and arm so the patient feels a stretch on the forearm muscles – this is usually painful in those suffering from Golfer’s Elbow. X-rays and MRIs don’t often show what needs to be shown, unless there is also a bone fracture or other break present.
Golfer’s Elbow Treatments: Physiotherapy
There are a variety of physiotherapy treatments for Golfer’s Elbow, but due to the nature of the condition, they can be slow and take time to take effect. Often, Golfer’s Elbow takes 6-12 months to resolve, and longer if the ulnar nerve is involved.
The first step in Golfer’s Elbow treatment is to stop the provocative activity, whether it be golf, gardening, or another activity causing damage to your tendons. If it’s a motion within you career, like factory work, it can be difficult to eliminate or reduce the movement, but it will allow for a faster and better outcome for treatment.
Your physiotherapist could recommend a variety of treatments depending on the specifics of your Golfer’s Elbow. Some of these could be:
- manual therapy and massage
- specific exercises to be performed at home to address muscle imbalances and flexibility
- therapeutic tape
- medical accessories or equipment to align your elbow
- golf assessment to improve your swing
- work ergonomics education
Surgery is rarely used as an option for Golfer’s Elbow but if there has been no improvement after a year of regular physiotherapy, it may be necessary. There is also physiotherapy post-surgery for Golfer’s Elbow.
Hamilton Physiotherapy for Golfer’s Elbow
If you’re experiencing Golfer’s Elbow, or any other kind of elbow pain, the Hamilton physiotherapists at Physio Art can help. We can work with you to find the right treatment options to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms and pain caused by your Golfer’s Elbow.
If you have elbow pain, contact Physio Art today. We can help!