What is Golfer’s/Tennis elbow and how can I treat it?

Golfer’s/ Tennis elbow sounds a bit specific to these sports, doesn’t it? But it causes incredible pain, and can affect people who don’t play golf or tennis. So, what is it and how does it happen?

The difference between the two conditions lies in where the elbow is inflamed. Both Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow are forms of epicondylitis, an inflammation of tendons that attach to the elbow. 

Tennis Elbow affects the lateral, or outside, epicondyle and 

Golfer’s Elbow affects the medial, or inside, epicondyle

Golfer’s elbow is often caused by overusing the muscles in the forearm which you use to grip, rotate your arm, and flex your wrist. Repetitive flexing, gripping, or swinging can cause pulls or tiny tears in the tendons. 

Tennis elbow affects the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers. The pain goes through the muscles and tendons that attach into the bony bump (medial epicondyle) of the elbow and the pain can be felt through the forearm and wrist.

Similarly to the tennis elbow condition, you don’t even have to play the sport to suffer from the condition. 

What can cause golfer’s elbow? 

Being an RSI (repetitive strain injury), overuse or improper use affects it. Repeated use of the wrist in sports or work, for example throwing and hitting, such as in baseball or javelin, improper technique such as in weightlifting, and jobs such as plumbing, carpentry and building can all contribute to the condition. In fact, any forceful and repetitive movement can put you at greater risk, especially when performed for at least 2 hours a day.  

How do I tell if the pain is golfer’s elbow?

Pain and tenderness will be felt usually on the inner elbow but also on the inner forearm. Certain movements can make it worse, such as forming a fist. A weakness may be felt in the hands and wrists and numbness and tingling may radiate into the fingers, usually the ring and little fingers. The pain may also come on gradually or all of a sudden, with certain movements causing more pain. 

What can be done to prevent golfer’s / Tennis elbow? 

Prevention is always best, strengthening the forearm muscles by using light weights or a tennis ball, and squeezing and holding helps. Simply by strengthening these muscles greatly increases their capacity to absorb physical stress. Stretching before activity is recommended, as with all activity.

A series of dynamic and static stretches should always be undertaken. Fixing your form will always help, particularly in the gym. Use the instructors on hand to correct your form if necessary. Also make sure you’re using the correct equipment for example in racket sports.

Knowing when to rest is key. Quite simply, if too much pain occurs then stop.

As always, it’s recommended in any prevention program to include a regular sports massage, as this can help to stimulate the healing process and reduce the tension, also increasing the function.

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Posted in on 24 November 2019