Did you know that golfer’s elbow usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 60? This is the time when many people are trying to perfect their golf swing, and suddenly they’re sitting on the sidelines.
Golfer’s elbow is a painful condition that affects the tendons near your elbow. It can really impact your day-to-day life, so it’s important to know what to do when it occurs.
Treatment and prevention are key in putting this condition to rest for good, so keep reading to learn everything you need to know!
Overview of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, occurs when you have pain in the tendons of your wrist and forearm that radiates to the inside of your elbow. It also causes inflammation, and you’ll notice the pain centers around the bony bump on the inner side of your elbow.
Usually, you’ll get golfer’s elbow if you overuse the muscles in your forearm. These muscles allow you to rotate your arm, and grip and flex with your wrist. If you do this repetitively, you can eventually pull your tendon and cause tiny tears.
Despite the name golfer’s elbow, other activities can lead to this condition such as:
- Sports where you use a racket
- Sports that have a lot of throwing movements like baseball or football
- Archery or throwing a javelin
- Repetitive movements on the job like hammering nails
- Not using the right technique while you’re lifting weights
- Carrying heavy suitcases
The symptoms of golfer’s elbow can come on either gradually or suddenly during activity. Common symptoms you’ll notice include:
- Pain and tenderness along the inner side of your forearm and elbow area
- Stiffness in your elbow
- Weakness in your hand or wrist
- Numbness or tingling that can radiate to your fingers
If the pain doesn’t improve after rest, you should see your doctor and have your elbow evaluated.
Diagnosing Golfer’s Elbow
Your doctor will do a physical examination on your elbow to check for pain and stiffness. They’ll also perform a golfers elbow test to check if it’s positive. You’ll first make a fist, and your doctor will place one hand on your elbow and the other on your wrist.
They will then rotate your wrist and extend your arm. If you experience pain along the inner part of your arm and elbow, you have a positive golfer’s elbow test.
Your doctor may also order an x-ray or an MRI to rule out any other causes like a bone fracture, or other problems with your tendons and ligaments.
Preventing Golfer’s Elbow
The biggest way you can prevent golfer’s elbow is to avoid overuse and stop any activities once you start to feel pain.
If you’re in sports, you’ll want to work on fixing your form. You’ll need to make sure you aren’t overloading your forearm muscles by not moving in the correct position. If you play a sport regularly, ask an instructor to help you.
It’s also important to take a look at the sports equipment you’re using on a regular basis. For example, if you’re using older golfing clubs, consider upgrading to lighter more efficient clubs.
Golfer’s Elbow Exercise
One of the best ways to prevent golfer’s elbow from reoccurring is to do golfer’s elbow stretches which involve eccentric strengthening exercises. When you do eccentric exercises, you focus on movements that lengthen your muscle while it’s under tension.
A great exercise to try is to sit down and hold a weight in your hand. Rest your arm on your thigh with your palm facing up. Then gradually lower your hand while still holding the weight, and use your other hand to help move the weight back up to its initial position. You can repeat this between 10 to 15 times.
You can do this exercise on both arms for prevention, or mainly focus on the arm that’s been recently affected by golfer’s elbow.
Treating Golfer’s Elbow
Your first step in golfer’s elbow treatment is to stop your activities and rest your arm.
You’ll want to ice your elbow area to reduce any pain and swelling you’re experiencing. Make sure not to leave the ice pack on for more than 20 minutes at a time and repeat every 2 to 3 hours.
It’s also a good idea to use a golfers elbow brace. You can find them in most drug stores, and they’re typically labeled as a golf or tennis elbow strap. They come in small, medium, and large and you’ll need to put the brace around the thickest part of your forearm and tighten the strap securely.
You can also take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol to reduce pain and inflammation. You’ll need to return to your activities gradually, and do golfers elbow stretches before and after any activity.
Your doctor might also recommend a course of physical therapy to help with your healing. You’ll be given different strengthening exercises to do at home to increase your strength and mobility.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is becoming an increasingly popular option to treat tendon, ligament, and muscle injuries. PRP is a type of regenerative medicine treatment that stimulates your body to begin healing itself.
PRP therapy uses platelets and plasma which are components in your blood. The plasma is the liquid portion, and platelets play a big role in blood clotting. Platelets also have growth factors that can trigger your cells to reproduce and regenerate tissue.
When you get a PRP treatment, you’ll first have a blood sample taken. This sample is spun at a high speed in a machine called a centrifuge. The spinning separates out the platelets and plasma. This sample is then injected into the area of injury around your elbow.
Surgery for golfer’s elbow is rare but can be recommended if you don’t respond to more conservative treatments within 6 to 12 months.
A surgeon will perform a medial epicondyle release surgery, which removes the damaged tendon and transplants a healthy tendon in its place.
Find Treatment for Your Golfer’s Elbow Today
If you’re still having pain from golfer’s elbow after resting at home and want to heal to your highest potential, it’s time to look into PRP therapy.
The professionals at RejuvenateYourHealth are here to help you. Dr. Barry Ruht is a board-certified orthopedic physician licensed to perform PRP therapy and is committed to getting you back to the active lifestyle you’ve been missing.
Make sure you contact us today to schedule an appointment, so you can get back to the sports you love!