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Golfers elbow or medial epicondylitis is an injury similar to tennis elbow but causing pain on the inside of the elbow instead. It is sometimes known as throwers elbow.
The main symptoms are pain on the bony bit on the inside of the elbow called the medial epicondyle, particularly when gripping hard with the hand. There will be general weakness in the wrist. Pain is reproduced by bending the wrist palm downwards against resistance and resisting pronation or rotating the wrist inwards.
Medial epicondylitis is caused by repeated wrist flexion or bending the wrist, particularly against resistance such as holding a golf club. It can also occur from throwing actions, as well as in occupations such as through manual jobs like carpentry or working at a computer work station. It tends to occur after a period of repeated overuse.
The tendon of the wrist flexor muscles on the inside of the elbow becomes painful and inflamed at their attachment point on the inner elbow.
Self help treatment
Ice the injury or apply a cold pack for 10 to 15 minutes every hour when it is acutely painful. After the first few hours this can be reduced to 3 to 4 times a day as required. Later in the rehabilitation program or if the injury becomes chronic applying heat may be more beneficial.
Rest is very important. Golfers elbow will not heal if it is not allowed to rest. Continuing to use the wrist may result in the injury becoming chronic which is much more difficult to treat.
After 3 days apply heat and use a heat retainer. Heat will help stimulate blood flow. A heat retainer is usually a neoprene type elbow support which will retains the bodies own heat and support the muscles of the elbow taking the strain off the painful tendon.
A tennis elbow brace may help by taking the strain off the tendon. It is a simple strap which wraps around the forearm and by applying pressure changes the angle of pull on the tendon and so changing how the forces are transmitted through the elbow.
See a sports injury professional who can advise on treatment and a golfers elbow rehabilitation program.
A physiotherapist or similar may use electrotherapy such as ultrasound or laser treatment to help reduce pain and inflammation and aid the healing process. Anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen may be prescribed by a Doctor to reduce pain and inflammation.
Sports massage techniques may be applied to both the tendon and the connecting muscles. Cross friction massage to the tendon is sometimes used if the injury has become chronic or does not respond to initial rest and ice treatment. Applying sports massage to the muscles of the forearm can help reduce tension in the muscles improving their function which long term should help reduce the strain on the tendon at the elbow.
Give a steroid injection if more conservative treatment is not effective. Rest is a very important component in the healing of this injury. It may heal quickly within two weeks but you could suffer with Golfers elbow for months.
hen the symptoms have settled down it is essential you fully rehabilitate and strengthen the elbow and follow guidelines that will help avoid the injury in the future. Correct technique in throwing or playing golf. See a good coach if you are not sure. Use a forearm brace or heat retainer if you have a weak wrist or elbow.