Golfer's Elbow Explained

Golfer`s elbow
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Golfer's elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is when there is pain where the tendons of the forearm muscles. Those who experience golfer's elbow can have pain that radiates from the forearm to the wrist. Although the name of this condition is called golfer's elbow, it is not limited to golfers. Individuals and athletes that repeatedly clench their fingers or use their wrist are susceptible to this pain condition.


Some symptoms of golfer's elbow include:

  • Stiffness of the elbow. You may feel pain when you clench your fist.

  • Weakness of the hands and wrist

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers

  • Pain and tenderness of the inner side of the elbow.

These symptoms may worsen with certain movements involved with swinging a golf club or racket, shaking hands, lifting weights, turning a doorknob, flexing the wrist, squeezing an item, or picking something up.


Golfer's elbow develops when one damages the tendons and muscles that control that fingers and wrist. The damage worsens over repeated stress and exercise of the muscles and tendons. The motion of throwing or hitting, improper lifting, or inadequate warm-ups can also play a contributing factor to golfer's elbow.

Certain sports such as golf, racket sports, throwing sports, and weight training can lead to golfer's elbow due to the stress on the arms. However, any activity that involves repeated bending and straightening of the elbow can lead to golfer's elbow.

Some non-athletic activities that increases the chances for golfer's elbow include using a computer, cooking, hammering, raking, chopping wood, painting, and doing assembly-line work. Furthermore, there are certain factors other than repeated and extensive use of the arm muscle and tendons such being a smoker, being over the age of 40, and being obese.

If this condition is not treated, this minor elbow pain can lead to chronic elbow pain, a lasting contracture of the elbow, and a limited range of motion of the elbow. To avoid developing a golfer's elbow, you should strengthen your forearm muscles, have appropriate form when playing in a sport, stretch before any physical activity, lifting properly, and know your body's limit.


Diagnosing a golfer's elbow is simple. A doctor usually looks into your medical history and conduct a simple physical exam. To measure the stiffness and pain, the doctor would apply pressure on the pained area and request you to move the fingers, wrist, and elbow in multiple positions. An x-ray may also be used to eliminate other causes of elbow pain, such as arthritis or a fracture. In very rare occasions, more comprehensive imaging studies may be performed. An example would be an MRI.


Early detection and treatment is key for a good recovery. Some at home treatments include:

  • icing the affected area

  • taking over the counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen)

  • resting

  • wearing a brace for muscle support

  • reducing the stress of the elbow tendons by wearing a splint or elastic bandage

  • stretching and strengthening the elbow through physical or occupational therapy.

Very rarely, a surgery would be required if the symptoms of golfer's elbow do not go away within 6 or 12 months. This surgical procedure removes the scar tissue in the region of tendon pain through ultrasound. Another treatment for golfer's elbow is corticosteroid injections. However, this is not an effective long-term treatment. Usually, many of those with golfer's elbow experience relief with a simple combination of rest, pain relievers, and ice packs.

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