The weather in Phoenix is absolutely beautiful right now, and what better way to enjoy the outdoors than with a round of golf or a trip to the driving range? As you are taking advantage of this phenomenal golf weather, you might be experiencing pain and tenderness on the inside of your elbow. That pain is most likely medial epicondylitis, commonly known as “Golfer’s Elbow.” When a golfer routinely flexes their wrist too much during the follow through of their swing, they can develop golfer’s elbow on their trailing arm and may require physical therapy (Prentice, 2011).
Medial epicondylitis is inflammation of the medial condyle—located on the inside of your arm. This inflammation can develop from overuse or repetitive movement of the wrist flexor and pronator muscles because they are attached to the same condyle (Walz et al, 2010).
Typical signs and symptoms of this condition are tenderness to touch, pain while gripping a club, pain traveling down the forearm, and/or pain with wrist flexion (Prentice, 2011). This pain can range from slightly annoying to debilitating. The key is to catch the condition early.
To help prevent medial epicondylitis from developing, you should follow these key steps:
- Proper swing mechanics: Having the proper form will help prevent an improper load placed on your elbow.
- Rest in between rounds: Do not play three rounds of golf back-to-back if you have not played in a while. Make sure to rest your body between rounds.
- Stretching before and after: When you overuse your muscles they become tight, which adds stress. Two good stretches to relieve muscle tension are to extend your arm straight by your side, and bring your fingers toward your forearm. The second stretch is to extend your arm to about shoulder height, then bring your fingers towards your face with your opposite hand. Hold each stretch for about 20-30 seconds and do the stretches three times a day.
- Ice sore areas: If you start to feel some irritation in your elbow, begin icing that area because ice helps decrease the inflammation by reducing the blood flow to the area. Only keep the ice on for 20 minutes.
- Use of anti-inflammatories: Taking anti-inflammatories can help reduce developing inflammation.
If you follow those key steps you will greatly decrease your chances of developing golfer’s elbow (Prentice, 2011).
Unfortunately, there are some cases where the pain and inflammation can accumulate to the point where home treatment is not an option. A physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy can provide comprehensive physical rehabilitation to treat your golfer’s elbow (or any other golf related injury). Our physical therapists have excellent expertise of human anatomy, body movements, and demands of the sport. They can give you customized treatment options such as:
- Ultrasound: This promotes optimal healing and decreases inflammation.
- Rehabilitation: To treat and prevent further injury through strength, endurance, and flexibility training.
- Manual therapy: We give you a soft tissue massage and trigger point dry needling, which can reduce stress placed on the elbow.
- Taping: This prevents overstressing the muscles, and activates underused ones.
- Education: We will teach you proper mechanics and provide a home treatment plan for continuing care.
Before the pain becomes unbearable and you are unable to play your favorite sport, come see us at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy. We can help you get back to playing your favorite game this spring.
Prentice, W. E., & Arnheim, D. D. (2011). Arnheim’s Principles of Athletic Training: A Competency-Based Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Walz, Daniel M., MD, Joel S. Newman, MD, Gabrielle P. Konin, MD, and Glen Ross, MD. “Epicondylitis: Pathogenesis, Imaging, and Treatment.” RadioGraphics 30.1 (2010): 167-84. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.