Golfer’s Elbow

By Jay Herrera, DPT
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golf player hitting shot with driver on course at beautiful sunny day

Golfer’s Elbow can be a chronic (long term) or acute (short term) painful disorder to the inside region of the elbow and can be caused by a number of factors. It is painful at the insertion point of the inner forearm (called flexors). Excessive repetitive use can stress the tendon/connective tissue over a long period of time which can cause pain and decreased neuromotor function. This can also cause inflammation of the surrounding tissue which can also limit normal joint range of motion. It can impact muscle function and cause a deactivation of muscle contraction ability which can lead to true muscle weakness and then impact your ability to perform daily functional tasks such as gripping, writing, grasping, holding a cup, driving a vehicle etc.

The exact cause of this condition is not well understood. It is thought that due to repetitive strain, a chronic cycle of inflammation can persist which can cause breakdown of the tendon/connective tissue of the insertion of the muscle attachment.

Gentle stretching exercises of the flexor tendons of this affected region can help to promote decreased pain . These type of exercises can be performed in sitting, lying down or even standing positions.

You can also implement cold packs when the pain and irritation is intense and warm packs can be applied to the stiff forearm muscles to attempt to relieve muscular tension and improve functional movement.

Topical pain relieving agents like BioFreeze® can also help to reduce pain and muscle tension enabling for improve comfort with motion exercises.

If self management is not successful at resolving the issue, then you may need to seek the care of a licensed healthcare provider such as a Physical Therapist or Chiropractor.

Using specialized techniques, your qualified healthcare professional can implement effective treatment procedures that can include the following:

  • Joint manipulation
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Electrical Muscular  Stimulation
  • Fascial manipulation
  • Myofascial release
  • Functional Manual Therapy
  • Neuromuscular re-education

In the short term of addressing your Golfer’s Elbow pain (1-4 weeks), whether it is self management or via professional healthcare intervention, you can expect the pain and irritation to be up and down where it will seem to do better one day then worse the next. Maintaining consistency is key.

If the condition does not respond to your self management and as it progresses into a more chronic experience (> 4 weeks), seeking professional intervention can help to prevent a severe chronic problem that becomes much more difficult to manage.

Your healthcare professional can examine and advise a treatment plan along with a prognosis on your condition. Treatment can last from a couple of treatments to several times a week for several weeks. It all depends on the severity of your condition.