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What is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer's Elbow Medial Epicondylitis Pain

What is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is an inflammatory condition of the elbow which in some ways is similar to tennis elbow. 

The anterior forearm contains several muscles that are involved with flexing the fingers and thumb and flexing and pronating the wrist.  The tendons of these muscles come together in a common tendinous sheath which is inserted into the medial epicondyle of the humerus at the elbow joint.  In response to a minor injury, or sometimes or no obvious reasons at all, this point of insertion becomes inflamed.

A common test that doctors perform to identify golfer’s elbow is to have you hold your hand with palm facing out, then bend your wrist down (fingers pointing to the floor), while the doctor applies mild resistance to this movement.  If you experience pain near the elbow when performing this motion, there is a good chance that you have golfer’s elbow.

Non-specific palliative treatments include:

  1. Heat or Ice
  2. A counter-force brace or “elbow strap” reduces strain at the elbow epicondyle, limits pain provocation, and protects against further damage.
  3. Vibration therapy can be used for localized pain relief and inflammation.
  4. Chiropractic rehabilitative care
  5. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs: ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin
  6. Natural trigger point injections to the forearm medial muscles

Before medications are used, conservative treatment with a chiropractor is recommended.  In addition to rehabilitation, treatment such as common rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.) will typically be used. This will help to decrease the pain and inflammation.  The rest will help with the discomfort seeing as how golfer’s elbow is an overuse injury.  The patient can also use a tennis elbow splint for compression.  The splint is made with 30-45 degrees of elbow flexion and a pad can be placed anteromedially on the proximal forearm.    A daytime elbow pad also may be useful, by limiting additional trauma to the nerve.

Therapy will include a variety of exercises for muscle/tendon reconditioning, starting with stretching and gradual strengthening of the flexor-pronator muscles.  Strengthening will slowly begin with isometrics and progress to eccentric exercises helping to extend the range of motion back to where it once was.  After the strengthening exercises, it is common for the patient to ice the area.

The ulnar nerve runs in the groove between the medial humeral epicondyle and the olecranon process of the ulna.  It is most important that this nerve should not be damaged accidentally in the process of injecting a golfer’s elbow.

Conservative rehabilitation treatments such as chiropractic care and physiotherapy have been known to improve symptoms greatly while simultaneously removing the activities that irritate the medial elbow. Regenerative medicine treatments such as PRP may also cause a natural decrease in inflammation as you undergo chiropractic care and rehabilitation.

Summary

By learning more about golfer’s elbow, we can better understand how to prevent and treat symptoms associated with it.  When golfer’s elbow is present, whatever is required depends on the area affected and the symptoms present, and that is why it is important to have a team of doctors who can identify the root cause. 

At BBC Health in Lewisville, Texas, we know how to identify, treat, or refer in the proper direction for any problems with your elbow.  As a primary care provider, we can quickly provide medical, chiropractic, and rehab treatments to get you well as fast as possible.  If you’re suffering from elbow pain, don’t delay, and contact us immediately to see how we can help.

Author
Dr. Matthew Gilbert

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