Golfer’s Elbow : Golf Injuries

Golfer’s Elbow refers to tendonitis in the elbow, which is usually caused by repetitive stress. It is the most frequent type of elbow injury in golf. Tendonitis is common in golf because it is a sport that relies heavily on the wrists and forearm muscles.

The Elbow Joint Explained

The elbow joint joins the humerus (upper arm bone) to the ulna and radius bones in the forearm. There are three major ligaments that stabilize the elbow joint as well as a number of different muscles that allow the elbow to bend and straighten. Tendons are strong fibrous bands of tissue that join the muscles and bones together. They provide extra support to the joint and help it to function efficiently.

What is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is a form of tendonitis that causes inflammation of the tendons on the inner side of the elbow. It usually affects the right elbow for right handed golfers and the left elbow for left handed players. It is mainly caused by overuse of the wrist and forearms, both of which are very active during the golf swing. Older players are more prone to Golfer’s Elbow, as gradual wear and tear of the tendons over time increases the risk of injury. In less experienced players it may also be caused by poor technique or gripping the golf club too tightly, which puts additional strain on the tendons in the elbow, making them susceptible to damage.

What are the Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow?

There will be pain in the inner area of the elbow, which may spread to the forearm. There will be swelling and your grip strength may also decrease due to weakness in the forearm.

How Can Golfer’s Elbow be Prevented?

Conditioning and strengthening the muscles in the arm will help to prevent Golfer’s Elbow. You should ensure that you don’t grip the golf club too tightly, as this creates excessive tension in the wrist, which may cause the tendons in the elbow to become weakened. The best way to prevent this type of injury is to avoid over-practising and take regular breaks to give your wrists and arms a rest.

How is Golfer’s Elbow Treated?

Resting the elbow is the best way to speed up the healing process. Keeping the wrist and forearm immobilized in a splint will reduce pain in the elbow. Depending on how severe the pain is, the splint may need to be worn for 3-4 weeks. Applying ice (never directly to the skin) or a wet towel that has been cooled in the fridge to the elbow will also reduce pain and inflammation, as will taking anti-inflammatory medication. If the pain is particularly bad, it might be necessary to have cortisone injections. 2-3 weeks after sustaining the injury, you can begin a course of physiotherapy focussing on exercises to strengthen and increase the flexibility of the wrist and forearm muscles. This will help to repair the damaged tendons and reduce the risk of the injury recurring.

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