Fixing Golfer's Elbow

Published 20/08/2012 07:20:00

Everyone is familiar with tennis elbow, but golfers can suffer from something similar. Golfer's elbow is an inflammation of the tendons in the inner part of the elbow. (Tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow.) For most golfers this is the left, or lead elbow. The most common cause is overuse, but golfer's elbow may also result from direct trauma, such as the club head coming to an abrupt stop after hitting an object like a rock or root. A biomechanical dysfunction in the neck can also trigger elbow problems.

Golfer's elbow usually occurs in players ages 35 to 55 and comes in stages, beginning with mild discomfort while bending and straightening the elbow and progressing to soreness after play and ultimately during a round. As the injury worsens it may be painful to shake hands, hold a briefcase, or perform any hand movements that involve lifting or grabbing.

The good news is golfer's elbow is easily treatable. First, ice the elbow for 12 to 15 minutes for several days to reduce the swelling, and rest it for one or two weeks. In many cases you can continue golfing as long as the pain is minimal and does not increase. Wearing a forearm strap while playing can lower stress on the tendons while they heal.

Once the pain has diminished, begin stretching and strengthening the forearms and wrists to avoid future problems. The following exercises can help and should be performed three times a week for several weeks.

forearm flexion stretch Forearm flexion stretch: Extend the injured arm away from your chest with the fingers pointed down and the palm facing outward. Gently pull the hand toward you. Hold for 20 seconds, relax, and repeat for several minutes.





forearm extension stretch Forearm extension stretch: Same position as above except the palm faces inward. Gently pull the hand toward you. Hold for 20 seconds, relax, and repeat for several minutes.






wrist flexion curls Wrist flexion curls: With a light weight (3-5 pounds) in hand and your palm facing up, rest arm on your leg with the wrist extended on the knee. Support your forearm with the other hand. Let the weight roll onto your fingers. Curl your hand up as far as possible so the weight rolls back into your palm. Hold for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.






wrist extension curls Wrist extension curls: Same position as above except the palm faces down. Let the weight pull your knuckles toward the floor, then curl them upward slowly as far as possible. Hold for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.


If the pain continues for several weeks, get an evaluation from a medical professional. Depending on the injury's severity, he or she may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or a cortisone shot to soothe the pain and jump-start the healing process. In addition the medical professional may recommend that you visit a physical therapist to further strengthen the elbow and wrist muscles and increase flexibility.




Do I need surgery?

If these alternatives fail, and the injury continues to interfere with normal activity, surgery may be needed. The surgery usually involves one of two types of operations: The damaged tendon is trimmed and sewn back together, or a portion is released from the bone and then reattached. Both are traditionally outpatient procedures. Afterward, the patient wears an arm sling or plaster splint for up to a week before beginning rehabilitation. Most people return to daily activities within three to six weeks and resume playing golf within a few months.

But remember, prevention is the best medicine. Strong forearms and wrists will help keep golfer's elbow at a safe distance.



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