What is golfer's elbow?
Golfer's elbow is pain or soreness in the inner part of the elbow from movement of muscles and tendons in the arm. A tendon is tissue that connects your muscles to bone. Golfer's elbow isn't just a problem with the elbow. It also involves the wrist. When the wrist moves, it affects the tendons that attach to the elbow.
Your doctor may call this condition medial epicondylitis.
What causes it?
Golfer's elbow is an overuse injury. These kinds of injuries are caused by putting too much stress on your muscles, joints, or other tissues without allowing them to recover. Golfer's elbow is seen most often in people who garden, bowl, play golf, or play baseball.
What are the symptoms?
Golfer's elbow causes pain on the inside of your elbow. Your elbow may feel stiff, and it may hurt when you make a fist. Some people with golfer's elbow feel weakness and tingling in the arm and fingers. These symptoms can happen slowly or quickly. The pain may get worse when you swing a racket or golf club, squeeze a ball, shake hands with someone, turn a doorknob, lift weights, or flex your wrist.
How is it diagnosed?
There is no one test for this problem. Your doctor may ask questions about your past health and then examine you. The doctor may press on areas and move your hand and wrists in certain ways to see if that causes pain. These tests will show the doctor if your pain is in your elbow and where in the elbow it is.
How is golfer's elbow treated?
The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and allow the tendon in the elbow to heal.
- Treatment usually starts with rest, using ice and anti-inflammatory medicines, and trying a physical therapy and exercise program (rehab). Many people get better using these treatments.
- If a few weeks of rest and rehab have not relieved pain, some people get cortisone (steroid) shots. These are shots of medicine into the painful area to reduce swelling. A steroid shot may help relieve pain for a short time.
- If other treatments don't work and you are not getting better, surgery might be an option.
How can you prevent it?
Golfer's elbow can be prevented. Here's how:
- Take time to stretch the muscles in your forearm before and after your activity.
- Be sure not to overuse your elbow.
- If you have pain or swelling in your elbow after an activity, ice the elbow, rest it, and try not to use it until the pain is gone.
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine