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Golfer's Elbow

Medial epicondylitis, or golfer's elbow, can occur after repetitive strain on the tendons attaching to the inner side of the elbow, leading to inflammation and irritation. Golfer's elbow commonly occurs in people who engage in activities involving repetitive wrist and forearm movements, causing pain and discomfort in the affected area.

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What Is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer's elbow is a painful overuse injury that causes inflammation of the muscle on the inside of the elbow.

The pain from golfer's elbow runs from the bony point of your elbow into your forearm.

What causes golfer's elbow?

Putting too much stress on your muscles, joints, or other tissues without allowing them to recover can cause golfer's elbow.

Although it's one of the more common golf injuries, it doesn't only happen to golfers. Activities that include repetitive forearm movement — such using a screwdriver or painting — can also cause golfer's elbow.

People at risk for golfer's elbow include those who:

  • Garden.
  • Bowl.
  • Play golf.
  • Play baseball — known as "Little Leaguer's elbow" caused by excessive throwing.

How can I prevent golfer’s elbow?

To help prevent golfer’s elbow:

  • Stretch the muscles in your forearm before and after activity. Stretching will reduce muscle soreness and aid in injury prevention.
  • Ice the elbow if you have pain or swelling in your elbow after an activity. Rest the elbow until the pain is gone.

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What Are the Symptoms of Golfer's Elbow?

Common symptoms of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Pain on the inside of your elbow.
  • Pain when you make a fist.
  • Stiffness in your elbow.
  • Weakness and tingling in the arm or fingers.

Golfer's elbow symptoms can come on all at once or slowly over time.

You may notice that the pain gets worse when you swing a golf club.

Other things that might cause golfer's elbow pain include:

  • Swinging a racket.
  • Shaking hands
  • Turning a doorknob.
  • Lifting weights.
  • Flexing your wrist.

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How Do You Diagnose Golfer’s Elbow?

There is no one test to diagnose golfer's elbow.

To help confirm a golfer's elbow diagnosis, your doctor will:

  • Ask about your medical history.
  • Do a physical exam.
  • Check for pain by pressing on and moving areas of your hand or wrist. This will help pinpoint where the damage is in the elbow.

If your doctor sees signs of a more serious elbow injury, like a fracture, he or she may perform an x-ray.

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How Do You Treat Golfer's Elbow?

To treat golfer's elbow, you need to give the joint time to rest and recover. The sooner you take it easy, the sooner you will be able to return to activity.

Avoiding treatment can lead to long-term pain and stiffness of the joint.

UPMC Sports Medicine suggests the following treatments for golfer’s elbow:

  • Rest and ice. Stop activity and apply ice packs to the elbow for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day.
  • Stretching. Your doctor or trainer may give you some exercises to stretch and strengthen your elbow. He or she may suggest physical therapy to strengthen the wrist, biceps, and triceps.
  • NSAIDs. You can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce elbow pain and inflammation.
  • Cortisone shots. Your doctor may prescribe cortisone shots to relieve pain and swelling.

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