What is golfer’s elbow?
Golfer’s elbow (also known as medial epicondylalgia) is used to refer to pain on the inside of your elbow. This pain corresponds to a bony point where many of the forearm muscles attach via a tendon. Many factors contribute to the development of golfer’s elbow, but the primary culprit tends to be overuse. This can happen due to work, especially if there’s a lot of heavy tool use, or activities involving a lot of gripping, such as lifting weights. High amounts of these activities can sensitise the area and make it painful. Similarly, this type of pain can occur on the outside of the elbow and is called tennis elbow.
Oddly enough, the majority of people experiencing golfer’s elbow do not play golf!
What does golfer’s elbow feel like?
- Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow
- Stiffness when moving the elbow or wrist
- Pain and/or weakness when making a fist
- Numbness or tingling along the inside of the forearm, sometimes into the ring and little fingers
- Pain when rotating the wrist
- Stiffness and pain tends to be worse in the morning
Due to the types of activities that bring on pain, golfer’s elbow can severely affect daily function, especially if it affects your dominant arm. Most cases of golfer’s elbow are gradual in onset, which means that patients will have had symptoms for several weeks or months before seeing their physiotherapist or GP.
Although numbness and tingling may seem concerning, these are not uncommon symptoms. The ulnar nerve lies close to the affected structures and can be irritated or sensitive to swelling or inflammation in the area, resulting in tingling.
Do I need to get a scan?
It is unlikely that your physiotherapist will recommend getting a scan to help treat golfer’s elbow. If many of your symptoms closely match the features described above, that is usually a strong indicator of golfer’s elbow. Your physiotherapist will also perform some tests with you to help rule in or rule out other issues. There are other conditions that may appear like golfer’s elbow but involve other structures and require different treatment. If your physiotherapist suspects this to be the case, they will discuss imaging or other referrals to make sure you receive the correct treatment.
How can Solutions help?
When you see one of our physiotherapists, we will start by asking about your experience of the condition. This helps us piece together the “history” of the problem and how it may have started. We then run through a thorough physical assessment, which may include looking at other areas like the shoulder and neck. Once we have enough information, we will help tailor a treatment strategy specific to your needs and lifestyle.
To effectively manage golfer’s elbow, load management, understanding triggers and exercise are the cornerstones of a successful treatment plan. Other complementary therapies such as dry needling, manual therapy and taping may also be used depending on your needs.
I think I have golfer’s elbow – what should I do?
Depending on the extent of your symptoms, golfer’s elbow can range from being a mild annoyance, to having a severe impact on your daily function or sport. No matter where your symptoms are on that scale, we are happy to help! Call us on 1300 738 609 or book online to see one of our physiotherapists. Let us help you find your Solution.