5 Things to STOP Doing if You Have Golfer's Elbow

Elbow Medial Epicondylitis No-No's

Photo of a PT helping elderly man with elbow pain.
Your physical therapist can help determine the cause of your elbow pain. Tetra Images-Vstock/Getty Images

Golfer's elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is a condition marked by significant pain on the inner side of your elbow.  The common tendons of the wrist originate from the bone there, and when they become irritated and inflamed, pain and limited use of your arm may result.

If you have golfer's elbow, you may benefit from the skilled services of a physical therapist to help manage your condition. Your PT may prescribe specific exercises for you to do to stretch your wrist or strengthen the muscles around your hand, shoulder, and elbow.

Your physical therapist should teach you a home exercise program to perform for your medial epicondylitis, and he or she should also teach you about your condition and what to expect from physical therapy.  Your physical therapist should also teach you what NOT to do if you have golfer's elbow.

Here is a list of some things to STOP doing if you have golfer's elbow:

  1. Stop worrying.  Although golfer's elbow is painful and it may make using your arm difficult, the condition is not life threatening.  If you start feeling pain on the inside part of your elbow and suspect you have golfer's elbow, don't panic.  With the correct treatment started right away, most cases of golfer's elbow go away in a few weeks.  Stop worrying, and start treating.
  2. Stop playing golf. Golfer's elbow if often caused or aggravated by the impact of the ball against the club during the golf swing.  If you are a golfer and are feeling the pain and limited mobility of golfer's elbow, stop playing golf for a short time to allow your elbow to rest.  (If you're not a golfer, check out the next item on the list.)
  1. Stop the aggravating activity.  So you're not a golfer and you have golfer's elbow?  Just stop any aggravating activity that may be irritating the muscles on the inside aspect of your elbow.  Avoid tight gripping activities and try not to lift heavy items, like grocery bags, with your painful arm.  If typing is irritating your symptoms, consider an ergonomic assessment and make some changes to your computer set up.  By resting and protecting your elbow during the early stages of golfer's elbow, you increase your chances of the pain going away in a few short weeks.
  1. Stop waiting for your golfer's elbow to go away (and stop relying heavily on passive treatments like heat or ice).  Although golfer's elbow tends to clear up in  6 to 8 weeks, usually gentle stretching or strengthening exercises help to rapidly improve your condition.  Check in with your physical therapist to see which exercises you should do.
  2. Stop avoiding your physical therapist.  You can try self-care options and rest for your golfer's elbow, but a visit to your physical therapist for treatment may hasten your recovery and get you back to your normal activities.  Stop avoiding your PT (or any other active treatment), and start getting help for your golfer's elbow.

If you have medial elbow pain and difficulty gripping or using your arm, you may have golfer's elbow. A course of physical therapy may be in order to help you get back to your normal activities.  Your PT can tell you what to do (and what to stop doing) to successfully treat the pain and limited mobility that comes with golfer's elbow.


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