About Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s Elbow or Medial Epicondylitis affects the elbow and relates to inflammation of the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the inside of the elbow bone. This condition is similar to Lateral Epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow, however, the only difference is that it occurs on the inside, instead of outside. Bowlers, archers, weight lifters, as well as sportsmen involved in racquet sports & throwing sports, usually experience this condition, due to the overuse of the muscles & tendons of the forearm and elbow.
Golfer’s Elbow relates to the damage of muscles & tendons that control the wrist and fingers of the human body. The main cause for this is the repetitive vigorous wrist and finger motions, especially while indulging in various sports. Any other activity which requires straightening and bending of the elbow rigorously may also cause this condition, such as, painting, cooking, raking, hammering, chopping wood, working on a computer, and more.
Signs and Symptoms
Tenderness and pain at the Medial Epicondyle of the elbow are the two main symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow. The other symptoms include stiffness, weakness, numbness, and tingling sensation. The pain may get worse while bending the wrist, trying to hold objects, squeezing the hand into a fist, lifting weights, and more.
Risk of Golfer’s Elbow
People above the age of 35 years, usually suffer from Golfer’s Elbow. However, anyone who repetitively stresses the wrists or fingers may experience this condition.
A General Physician or an Orthopedic Surgeon is the subject matter expert.
Tests and Investigations
Physicians diagnose a Golfer’s Elbow based on the medical history of the patient and a physical examination. By applying pressure to the affected area, as well as, by making him move his arms, elbows, wrists, and fingers in various ways, the physician is able to detect if the patient is suffering from Golfer’s Elbow or not. To rule out Arthritis, Fracture, or similar ailments, the doctor may suggest an X-Ray or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
Treatment Modalities Available
Treatment for Golfer’s Elbow aims at healing the tendons, and from preventing the collagen from breaking down further. This is possible by taking rest till the pain wears out completely. Only after the elbow is completely treated, the patient may gradually start using it. The other treatment modalities available to treat Golfer’s Elbow include:
- Pain Killers: Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Acetaminophen, help subsiding pain & inflammation. In case, these painkillers are not effective, the physician may prescribe Cortisone Injections.
- Ice Packs: Applying an ice pack 3 to 4 times a day, gives relief from the pain caused by Golfer’s Elbow.
- Exercises: Stretching exercises, performed under a medical practitioner’s supervision, helps in treating this ailment.
- Surgery: When the above-mentioned treatments fail, the doctor may suggest surgery. However, surgeries are very rare for treating Golfer’s Elbow. Tendon Debridement (the process of taking out only the affected tissues), and Medial Epicondyle Release (the process of taking the tension off the Flexor Tendon), are the two main surgeries performed to treat this condition.
Physical Activity Requirements during the Course of the Treatment
Putting the elbow to total rest is the key to fast recovery. However, the doctors may suggest few exercises, depending on the patient’s condition.
Complication in Management
The Golfer’s Elbow may cause chronic elbow pain, may limit the range of motion, and may cause a contracture in the elbow, if not treated.
Precautions during Treatment
It is important to give rest to the elbow and only indulge in exercises advised by the physician.
Prevention to Avoid Recurrence
It is possible to avoid a Golfer’s Elbow and its recurrence with the help of the following precautionary measures:
- Regular stretching and strengthening exercise can do wonders to prevent Golfer’s Elbow. Lifting lightweights and squeezing a tennis ball are helpful in this regard.
- Golfers must keep a check on their grip and swing technique. Using the right method of holding and using the golf stick can prevent the ailment. Similarly, tennis players must take advice from their instructors on the right technique for serving or hitting a forehand.
- Using the right technique for lifting weights also reduces the risk of Golfer’s Elbow.
- In case of the first sign of pain, it is best to give the elbow rest. This may prevent Golfer’s Elbow or its recurrence.
Support from Family
Reassurance from the family members helps the patient to combat the pain and sail through the healing process.