Pain on the inner aspect of your elbow when you grip something could mean you have developed a "golfer's elbow". You don't have to know what the difference between an "Eagle" and an "Albatross" is in golfing terms, because most times the condition is not related to playing the sport that gives it its name. To understand more about a golfer's elbow read on.
What is golfer's elbow?
Golfer's elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects the tendons of the forearm muscles where it attaches to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow (medial epicondyle).
A tendon is a strong, soft tissue, structure that attaches muscles to bone. Because the muscles/tendons involved are used to flex (bend) your elbow and wrist activities that require you to do this repetitively or with excessive force, such as hitting a ball with a golf club, can lead to you developing the condition.
Despite the name, 90% of cases of golfer's elbow are not sport-related. You are more likely to get the condition if your job requires you to do forceful repetitive actions such as working in construction and plumbing.
What are the symptoms of golfer's elbow?
You may experience pain along the inside of the elbow or in the forearm when gripping something like a golf club or baseball bat, twisting or lifting. The pain can be sharp or dull, depending on how much force you're putting through it.
You may notice swelling around the area where the tendon attaches to the bone. This can make the elbow feel stiff as well as weaken your grip strength.
Other conditions can mimic a golfer's elbow (up to 20% of patients report ulnar nerve symptoms) so if you get symptoms it is important you see an experienced clinician get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care.
What's the difference between golfer's and tennis Elbow?
Golfer's and tennis elbow both involve the group of tendons that attach to either side of the elbow joint. Golfer's elbow happens on the inside (medial epicondyle) and tennis elbow on the outside (lateral epicondyle) of the joint. Unfortunately, it is possible to have both at the same time!
Thankfully, the chances of this occurring is low as the incidence of golfer's elbow is 5-10 times less common than tennis elbow.
How is golfer's ebow diagnosed?
Your elbow is examined and you will be asked about any symptoms you experience. Diagnosis is usually confirmed with an ultrasound scan done the same day of your appointment.
X-rays may be arranged if there is suspicion of an underlying bone or joint problem. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is usually reserved for cases that have so far failed to respond to treatment.
Treatment options for Golfer's Elbow
The vast majority of patients respond to non-operative treatment strategies and go on to have a full recovery. There is no one cure for golfer's elbow and people will respond differently to various types of treatment.
How long does golfer's elbow take to heal?
This does depend on how severe your case is. Most cases settle within 6 months although some can take longer.