27th June, 2017
Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow but the pain is felt on the inside of your elbow rather than the outside.
The medical term for golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis. It’s a painful problem affecting the tendons that help you grip, so people that use their hands a lot for work – for example, using screwdrivers or a hammer regularly – are prone to developing this condition, along with people who work at a computer.
If you are experiencing pain on this inside of your elbow which comes on during activities when you are gripping something, twisting your forearm or lifting, then it’s likely that you have golfers elbow. It’s also common to have some tenderness around the bone and your grip might not feel as strong as usual.
You can try this test to see if you have golfers elbow:
Straighten your elbow and turn your palm up. Keeping your elbow and wrist straight, use your other hand to press down on your palm. If your inner elbow pain increases, then the test is positive.
Golfer’s elbow gets worse if you push through the pain. So in the early stages you’ll need to make some adjustments to the way you do things to allow your symptoms to settle. This doesn’t mean stopping everything entirely. You can continue to use your arm but some activities might need to be reduced to a level where they can be completed comfortably.
If you have a manual job, this might be difficult but you can try using a golfer’s elbow strap to reduce pain during some tasks. Wrapping tennis racket grip tape around the handle of your tools to increase the diameter of the handle (so you don’t have to grip as hard) can also be helpful.
Using an ice pack at the end of the day will help with pain relief. Something that moulds to your skin like a gel pack or packet of frozen peas is best. Wrap a wet tea towel around the ice pack and apply for up to 10 minutes. Check your skin occasionally and take off the ice pack if your skin goes numb, to prevent an ice burn.
In the early stages, it’s best not to push into pain to exercise the muscles of your forearm.Try this ‘press and hold’ exercise to help relieve pain:
Sit with your elbow bent and resting on the arms of a chair or table. Turn your palm upwards. Press down on your palm with your other hand and upwards with your affected side (so there is no movement). Press and hold for 10 seconds – without pain – and repeat 5 times every hour.
After you’ve finished, stretch out your forearm by straightening your elbow (palm up) and using your other hand to increase the stretch:
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Take home message …
In the short term modifying your activities to reduce pain is vital.
A physiotherapist can treat your elbow to relieve your symptoms and will be able to advise on the equipment you use and alternative ways of doing things to prevent your symptoms from recurring.
The exercises we’ve recommended are specifically for golfer’s elbow and not for other types of elbow pain. In fact, some nerve problems can mimick the symptoms of golfer’s elbow, so if your pain doesn’t improve with these exercises it’s a good idea to speak to your GP or arrange an assessment with a physiotherapist to rule this out.
Get in touch with us if you have any questions at all,
The Physiofit Team!
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