The official term for golf elbow is “medial epicondylitis” and it is the name of a specific type of tendinitis in the elbow. Tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendons that connect muscle to bone. When the tendons in your forearm that connect the muscle and bone on the inner side of the elbow become inflamed it leads to golf elbow, or medial epicondylitis. Golf elbow and tendinitis are injuries that are caused by the overuse of certain tendons and muscles. Golf elbow and tennis elbow are different from one another because of where the inflammation occurs: golf elbow affects the inside of the elbow while tennis elbow affects the outside of the elbow. While medial epicondylitis is commonly referred to as golf elbow, it does not only affect golfers. In fact, anyone who participates in repetitive activities to the arms, elbows, and wrists, like weightlifting and baseball, and can develop golf elbow.
Symptoms of Golf Elbow
Golf elbow can develop slowly or occur suddenly depending on repetitive motions, overuse, or injury to the elbow. The most common symptoms of golf elbow include pain on the inner side of the elbow along with stiffness and difficulty moving the elbow. Pain and tenderness are common during and immediately after certain activities. Golf elbow can also affect the arms, hands, and wrists, including weakness and tingling sensations or numbness. Pain from golf elbow can radiate through the arm and to the wrist, making common daily activities more uncomfortable. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and are more typical in the elbow of your dominant arm.
Causes of Golf Elbow
Golf elbow is commonly caused by activities that lead to repetitive motions involving your arms, elbows, hands, and wrists. While golf is the most obvious activity related to medial epicondylitis considering its nickname, other sports that can cause golf elbow include racket sports like tennis and throwing sports like baseball, softball, and football. Weight training and weightlifting can also lead to golf elbow. Improper form during these sports activities can also increase the likelihood of golf elbow and other potential injuries.
In addition to recreational activities, repetitive movements used in certain occupations can also lead to golf elbow, like carpentry, construction, and plumbing. Occupational movements involve repetitive motions that utilize the elbows. Moving with forceful and heavy objects like in shipping and moving industries can also cause golf elbow. Any overuse of the elbow can lead to golf elbow pain, even in musicians like violinists.
Risk Factors with Golf Elbow
Most cases of golf elbow involve engaging in activities or repetitive movements for at least an hour each day. Golf elbow is common in athletes who participate in activities like golf, tennis, baseball, and other similar sports. Those who are over 40 years old are at a higher risk of developing golf elbow. Other risk factors for golf elbow include obesity and smokers.
Diagnosing Golf Elbow
Your doctor will discuss your medical history and current activities that may be contributing to pain in your elbow. In order to diagnose golf elbow, your doctor will perform a physical exam to assess your pain and stiffness, asking you to move your arm, elbow, wrist, and hand in multiple directions. In some cases of severe pain and limited mobility, your doctor may also request an X-ray to help rule out other potential causes of your elbow pain, like a broken bone or arthritis and begin osteoarthritis treatment if needed.
Golf Elbow Treatment
For mild cases of golf elbow, you may try to relieve the pain and discomfort at home with intentional rest and icing your elbow, along with possibly trying over-the-counter pain medications. However, if you continue to participate in the activity that is causing inflammation in your elbow then you may need to talk to your doctor about more permanent solutions to address your pain. Your doctor may recommend a brace to help reduce the strain on your tendons and muscles. It can also be beneficial to work with a trainer or instructor to ensure you are using the proper technique during your activities so you don’t further damage the tendons and muscles in your elbow.
Chiropractic Care for Golf Elbow
Chiropractic care offers a natural, non-invasive solution for medial epicondylitis treatment. Instead of taking medications that will only temporarily mask your pain symptoms and can lead to uncomfortable side effects, chiropractors offer safe, drug-free golf elbow treatment options. Chiropractic care will help manage and alleviate your pain, reduce inflammation, and improve your range of motion in your elbow. Your chiropractor will want to understand the cause of your golf elbow, determine the severity of your pain and symptoms, and identify how it may be affecting your range of motion and participation in daily activities.
Your chiropractor will utilize a variety of chiropractic techniques to provide you with safe and effective golf elbow treatment. Inflammation in your elbow is one of the main reasons you are experiencing pain and your chiropractor can help in reducing that inflammation. Adjustments to the joint and massage therapy to the muscles and tendons can help break up any scar tissue and restore blood flow and nutrients to the area so it can effectively heal. Chiropractic techniques like adjustments are utilized to help make joints like your elbow move properly. Your chiropractor will realign your elbow joint in order to restore mobility for your medial epicondylitis treatment.
Stretches and Exercises for Golf Elbow
In addition to chiropractic techniques, your chiropractor may also discuss stretches and exercises to help you with your golf elbow treatment. Stretches and exercises can help increase flexibility and build strength in your arms, elbows, and wrists. Work with your chiropractor to determine which stretches and exercises will help increase blood flow with oxygen-rich nutrients and your body’s natural healing properties. If repetitive recreational activities are causing your golfer’s elbow then working through certain stretches and exercises may be able to help reduce stress and strain on your elbow so you can still participate.
Therapeutic stretches and exercises are designed to help you gradually stretch and strengthen these damaged or injured tendons and muscles. Your chiropractor will focus on types of stretches and exercises that provide strengthening with extension, flexion, and resistance. It is also important during your first visit to the chiropractor to talk about how your body responds to these activities and to stop any stretches or exercises that may make your pain and discomfort worse. You may also be able to compliment your chiropractic care and physical therapy with home remedies like intentional rest when you are experiencing pain or after activities commonly associated with golf elbow.
Preventing Golf Elbow
Talk with your chiropractor about golf elbow treatment and how it can help prevent medial epicondylitis in the future. While golf elbow can affect anyone, your chiropractor can help you reduce the risk of golf elbow. Stretching before and after activities that have historically led to your golf elbow can help prevent future injury. It is also important to use proper form and technique during these repetitive motions that utilize your elbows. Rest is also just as important in giving your elbows a break and a chance for any inflammation and swelling to go down in between activities. Increasing arm and upper body strength can also help you to prevent golf elbow in the future.