Unlike Tennis Elbow, which affects the outside of the elbow, Golfer's Elbow affects the inside and forearms. This is a soft tissue injury of the muscles and tendons around the elbow joint. However, this condition is not as common as Tennis Elbow.
While the name maybe Golfer's Elbow, this condition affects anyone who may be excessively using their forearms to flex, grip or swing their wrist or arms. People active in games such as bowling, tennis, baseball, and in some cases, painting, are more prone to this condition. While this condition is not limited to any age group, most of the patients tend to be between the ages of 35 to 50,
CausesIt is an overuse injury. Repetitive actions, such as gripping, flexing, swinging, puts strain on the forearm muscles which overworks the muscles. This causes the tendons to tear, which then leads to pain and inflammation.
SymptomsPain is felt in the bony bump on the inside of the elbow and may radiate to the forearm when gripping something. Some people also experience pain when stretching the muscles.
DiagnosisYour physiotherapist will ask you questions related to your medical history. Following this, he will conduct a physical examination, where he will position your wrist so that it stretches the tendons of the forearm. This should cause slight discomfort, confirming the condition. You will need to get an X-ray done, this will help rule out any other elbow-joint related condition as well as show any calcium deposits in the tears. Further, MRI scan may also be conducted upon the doctor's suggestion.
TreatmentThe key here is letting the collagen heal and prevent it from breaking down further.
The popular method of treating Golfer's elbow is physiotherapy. At first, your therapist will give you tips on how to rest your elbow and how to do your activities without exerting extra strain on your elbow. He may apply tape to take some of the load off the elbow muscles and tendons. You may use an elbow strap that wraps around the upper forearm in a way that relieves the pressure on the tendon attachment. Also, your therapist may apply ice and electrical stimulation to ease pain and improve healing of the collagen. Exercises are used to gradually stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles.
In case of inflammation, your doctor may suggest appropriate medication to reduce the inflammation. A new technique that's gained popularity is the shock wave therapy. It uses a machine to generate shock wave pulses to the sore area. Patients generally receive the treatment once a week for up to three weeks. This therapy aims at easing the pain felt in the forearms.
In rare cases, where the non-surgical treatments do not reduce the pain, surgery may be suggested to help the patient regain the use of their elbow and wrists.
Untreated Golfer's elbow can last for any time from 6 months to 2 years, and there are chances of recurrence. To get more advice and details about physiotherapy treatments for Golfer's Elbow, contact your physiotherapist.