Golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis is a disease that causes pain in the inner side of the elbow joint.
Although this disease is more common in those who play golf, it also occurs in other physical activities that repeat specific movements repeatedly (such as throwing objects, using Ax a lot, and using a saw).
The muscles that bend the wrist and fingers are connected to the bump on the inside of the elbow near the elbow, and they suffer from problems and pain, just like tennis elbows.
The golfer’s elbow is similar to the tennis elbow in every way, and only its location is on the inside of the elbow, but the tennis elbow is more common than the golfer’s elbow. The treatment of these two complications is similar.
Risk factors for golfers’ elbow
You are at high risk for golfer’s elbow if:
- You are 40 years old or older.
- You spend at least two hours a day doing repetitive activities.
- You are fat
- You are a smoker
Symptoms of golfer’s elbow
Here are some of the symptoms of a golfer’s elbow:
- Elbow pain or tenderness on the inside of the elbow
- Radiating pain on the inner side of the forearm
- Pain increases with movement or pressure on the affected area, such as bending the wrist or shaking the hands
- Forearm muscle stiffness
- Weakness and cramping in the elbow and hand muscles or difficulty in moving them
- Itching or numbness spreads to the fingers, usually to the middle finger or ring finger.
- Factors that increase the probability of a golfer’s elbow:
- Activities that require frequent and intense movements of the wrist and forearm (tennis, squash, racquetball, woodworking)
- Poor physical condition (low strength and flexibility)
- Not warming up before doing sports
- Continuing sports activities before recovery, rehabilitation and completing the recovery process.
Causes of golfer's elbow
Causes of Golfer’s Elbow Many activities can lead to a golfer’s elbow, including:
- Golf game
Improper grip or excessive force on the golf club can damage muscles and tendons.
- Racket sports
A brutal hit with a racquet can damage the elbows. Using a too-small, oversized and heavy racket can also lead to injuries.
- Throwing sports
Improper throwing techniques in sports such as football, javelin throwing, and archery can also cause golfer’s elbow disease.
- Weight training
Weight training or lifting improperly, such as bending the wrist during biceps training, can put extra stress on the muscles and tendons of the elbow. Additionally, any activity that requires bending and straightening the elbow can lead to a golfer’s elbow. Including:
Painting, mowing, working with hammers, cutting wood, using computers, working on an assembly line and cooking. However, activities such as conventional cooking or gardening one or two days a week will not lead to golf elbow.
Activities generally performed for more than one hour per day and most days of the week can increase the chance of developing golf elbow.
Diagnosis of golfer's elbow
Your doctor will probably first review your medical records. You should answer the doctor’s questions about how the pain feels, how the pain affects your activities, the type of activity you do, and any past injuries.
- Physical examination: Physical examination is usually the best and most helpful way to diagnose a golfer’s elbow. Your doctor may move your wrist and forearm so you feel a muscle stretch. If you have a golfer’s elbow, you will usually feel pain.
- Elbow X-rays: X-rays can help your doctor diagnose other problems associated with the golfer’s elbow. X-ray images can show the presence of calcium deposits and bone spurs in the connection area of the medial epicondylitis to the forearm flexor tendon.
- MRI scan: An MRI scan uses magnetic waves to create images of all cross-sectional areas of the elbow. In addition to bones, MRI images also show tendons.
- Ultrasound test: In this test, high-frequency sound waves produce images of all the structures under the body’s skin. As the small handle of the ultrasound device is moved over the desired area, the created images appear on the monitor. This test can sometimes show collagen erosion.
Tips to prevent golfer’s elbow
You can take measures to prevent this disease, which are as
- Strengthen arm muscles; Use light weights or press a tennis ball to strengthen the muscles.
- Do movements to warm yourself up; You can walk or jog for a few minutes to warm up your muscles. Do gentle stretches before starting the game.
- Pay attention to the correct exercise techniques; Whatever sport you do, ask your coach to teach you the right movements.
- Use the right equipment; Whatever activity you do, ensure you use the right equipment to avoid complications. For example, a racket with a small handle and a heavy head may increase the risk of elbow problems.
- Lift objects correctly; When lifting any equipment, keep your wrist firm and steady not to put too much force on the elbow.
- Take time to rest; Try not to overuse your elbow so it doesn’t put too much pressure on it. If you feel pain, you should take some rest.
How does golfer's elbow feel?
A person with a golfer’s elbow may experience the following
- A feeling of pain in the forearm when moving the wrist, hand, or elbow
- The feeling of pain, falling asleep, and numbness spread by grabbing and pressing from the elbow to the hand and fingers.
- Sensitivity to touch and swelling inside the forearm
- The feeling of weakness in the hand and forearm when trying to grasp objects
- Elbow dryness
Treating golfers’ elbow
The treatment of the disease is usually non-surgical and
includes physical therapy.
- Stop activities that cause pain:
You should stop your sports activities if you are a golfer or a putter. Of course, only exercise does not cause this disease or aggravate its symptoms.
Grasping anything tightly or holding it for too long can worsen, even opening heavy doors.
- Cold therapy:
Cold therapy or ice packs should be applied in the early stages, in the first 2-3 days when the disease is in an acute phase.
This can relieve the pain area. Elevating the limb can also help reduce swelling and drain fluids away from the injury site through gravity.
- Use of braces, protectors or heat holders
This will support the elbow and prevent further damage. There is a type of elbow brace that wraps around the forearm just below the affected elbow.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation, especially in the early stages of an injury. It is thought that their effect will decrease later in the recovery period. Always consult a doctor before taking medicine.
- Injection of corticosteroids
Steroid drugs can be injected in the points where there is maximum
sensitivity. Special care should be taken when injecting into the golfer’s elbow, as the ulnar nerve may be injured. A steroid injection can be repeated after six weeks to two months.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection
A sample of the heaviest layer of plasma (high concentration of platelets) is re-injected into the patient.
- Ozone injection
Ozone injection increases oxygen absorption and improves blood circulation. Blood flow in small vessels also increases.
Golf elbow treatment by acupuncture method
The conventional methods of treating a golfer’s elbow include physical therapy, painkillers and, if necessary, injecting small amounts of steroids into the affected area. Physiotherapy is a valuable treatment, but the constant use of painkillers can cause addiction.
Acupuncture, one of the methods of traditional Chinese medicine, is considered an alternative and natural treatment for a golfer’s elbow. The specialist determines the cause of the pain through various examination techniques. Take the CT scan and radiographs to the consultation session.
The acupuncturist examines the painful, red, and swollen area and performs several motion tests. After reviewing the cause of the golfer’s elbow and the existing symptoms, the specialist inserts sterile needles in mirror points.
Mirror points are areas that are not painful but are located near the site of pain. Because acupuncture improves circulation, significantly reduces swelling, and relaxes muscles, elbow pain is relieved almost immediately after acupuncture.
Physiotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for a golfer’s elbow.
The sooner the physiotherapy treatment starts, the more successful the treatment will be. The physiotherapy treatment plan may include the following:
- Manual treatments
- Electrical stimulation
- Laser therapy
- Shockwave therapy