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Golfer's elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a common condition caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons. Although it is commonly associated with golfers, anyone who repeatedly uses their wrists or clenches their fingers can develop this condition. The pain and discomfort associated with golfer's elbow can be severe and can limit your ability to perform everyday tasks such as typing, holding objects, and even shaking hands.

At GPOA, our team of top orthopaedic elbow surgeons are dedicated to treating your condition from the root of the problem and addressing it with quality care and a personalized plan.

Here is everything you need to know about Golfer's Elbow.

What Is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer's elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that affects the tendons and muscles on the inner side of the elbow. It is caused by repetitive stress or overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, which can lead to small tears in the tendons that attach to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. This can cause pain and discomfort in the elbow, forearm, and wrist, as well as weakness and stiffness in the affected arm.

While it is commonly associated with golfers due to the repetitive swinging motion involved in the sport, golfer's elbow can actually affect anyone who repeatedly uses their wrist and fingers, such as tennis players, weightlifters, and even office workers who perform repetitive tasks such as typing and mouse clicking. If left untreated, golfer's elbow can become chronic and severely limit your ability to perform daily tasks.

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of golfer's elbow can vary from mild to severe and usually develop gradually over time. The most common symptom is pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow, which may be worsened by gripping or squeezing objects, as well as wrist and finger movement. The pain may also radiate down the forearm and into the wrist. In some cases, there may be weakness and stiffness in the affected arm, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as opening jars or turning door knobs.

The pain may be aggravated by activities that involve bending or twisting the wrist, such as swinging a golf club or racket, lifting weights, or even typing on a keyboard. Some people with golfer's elbow may experience numbness or tingling in the fingers, particularly the ring and little fingers. The symptoms of golfer's elbow can worsen over time and may become chronic if left untreated, making it important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

How Is It Treated?

The treatment for golfer's elbow typically involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, and pain management. The first step in treating golfer's elbow is to rest the affected arm and avoid activities that cause pain and discomfort. Ice packs may also be applied to the affected area to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the muscles and tendons in the affected arm and improve flexibility and range of motion. Exercises such as wrist curls, forearm pronation and supination, and grip strengthening exercises can be helpful. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin, may be prescribed to help reduce pain and inflammation.

In more severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Surgery is rarely needed for golfer's elbow, but in cases where conservative treatment has failed, surgery may be recommended to remove damaged tissue or repair the tendons.

How Can I Prevent Golfer's Elbow?

Preventing golfer's elbow involves taking steps to reduce the stress and strain on your forearm muscles and tendons. One way to do this is to warm up properly before participating in any activity that involves repetitive wrist or finger movement, such as golf or tennis. This can be done by performing gentle stretching exercises and gradually increasing the intensity of your activities.

Another important factor in preventing golfer's elbow is maintaining good technique when performing repetitive activities. This includes using proper grip and form when lifting weights, holding objects, and swinging racquets or clubs. It is also important to take breaks frequently and avoid overuse of the affected arm. If you work at a desk job that involves repetitive typing or mouse clicking, taking frequent breaks and using ergonomic equipment can help prevent golfer's elbow.

Strengthening exercises for the muscles of the forearm can also help prevent the condition from occurring, as can maintaining overall physical fitness through regular exercise. By taking these preventive measures, you can reduce your risk of developing golfer's elbow and enjoy your favorite activities without pain and discomfort.

Surgery For Golfer's Elbow

Surgery for golfer's elbow is generally considered a last resort after conservative treatments have failed to provide relief. The most common surgical approach to treating golfer's elbow is called open surgery, which involves making a small incision in the skin over the medial epicondyle of the elbow and then removing the damaged tissue or repairing the tendons. Another approach is arthroscopic surgery, which involves making several small incisions in the skin and using a tiny camera and instruments to visualize and repair the damaged tissue.

Surgery is typically recommended for people who have severe pain and disability due to golfer's elbow that has not improved with rest, physical therapy, and other non-surgical treatments. Recovery time after surgery can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the type of surgery performed, but generally involves a period of immobilization followed by physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion to the affected arm. It is important to follow all postoperative instructions and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and prevent recurrence of the condition.

Overall, while surgery for golfer's elbow is generally safe and effective, it is important to consider all options and weigh the risks and benefits before deciding on a course of treatment.

If you are suffering from golfer's elbow, or are struggling with elbow pain, contact our highly-skilled team of providers at Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates or schedule an appointment directly online today.