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Golfer's elbow

Find out about this common elbow injury and how it can be treated by experts at our network of hospitals.

Golfer’s elbow is a common ailment that occurs when the tendons attaching the inside forearm to the upper arm become inflamed.

Small tears near the bony bump, known as the medial epicondyle, on the inside of your elbow can occur too. The medical name for golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis.

Golfer’s elbow can cause the inside of your elbow to feel sore, tender and uncomfortable.

Golfer’s elbow is an injury usually caused by overusing the muscles and tendons in your forearm. As its name suggests, they can be strained when you repeat the same movement, such as a golf swing.

However, you certainly do not need to play golf to experience golfer’s elbow. You can hurt your elbow doing activities around the house or playing other spots, especially if you are not used to using these muscles.

Even people who are well practiced at using these muscles can still damage them. Golfer’s elbow can also occur if you hit or knock your elbow.

If you have golfer’s elbow, you will likely experience pain on the inside of your elbow. The discomfort will be around the lower part of your bone in your elbow.

Often you will only find it painful when you are using your lower arm and wrist. However, in some cases the pain is more constant. It might be hard for you to hold things and you could experience stiffness that makes it hard to extend or straighten your arm. The pain may travel down your arm from your elbow towards your wrist.

If your elbow pain is chronic, it can have a debilitating effect on your life, affecting your everyday tasks, sleep, work and personal relationships.

When you meet with your doctor, they will discuss your elbow pain in depth. This will help them reach an accurate diagnosis.

They might ask:

  • Does your pain have an obvious cause or trigger, or did it appear without warning?
  • Have you ever had a similar type of pain in your elbow?
  • Have you had a previous injury to your elbow?
  • Do you have any other symptoms (even if they’re seemingly unrelated to your elbow pain)?

Fortunately, diagnosing elbow pain can usually be achieved through a physical examination of your elbow and an assessment of your medical history.

Depending on your symptoms, other diagnostic tests might be used to rule out other causes of your elbow pain. These tests include: a elbow X-Ray, an ultrasound or an MRI. Your doctor will explain these tests to you if they are needed.

We treat patients of all ages and all backgrounds, ranging from elite sportspeople to those who want to improve their day-to-day quality of life.

We have an expert team on site to support your treatment, including physiotherapists, sports and exercise consultants, radiologists, neurologists and more, to make sure your recovery is as fast, effective and convenient as possible.

If you are coming to us directly (rather than via GP or insurance referral), we offer very competitively priced self-pay packages, along with payment plan options to help make private healthcare accessible and affordable for all.

There are a few different ways golfer’s elbow can be treated.

Pain relief

Painkillers might help manage your pain. Paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen often reduces pain, helping to improve your mobility.

Heat therapy

The Arthritis Foundation recommends heat treatment for joint pain. According to the foundation, a heating pad will help relax your joints, improving your mobility and reducing pain. Alternatively, placing a cold compress on your elbow throughout the day could numb your elbow, reducing pain and providing relief,

Golfer’s elbow brace

if you are continuing to use your affected arm, you may need to wear a brace or compression strap. This can help to minimise tension and ease stress on the affected elbow.

Golfer’s elbow exercises

According to the National Institute of Health Research, physiotherapy services are an important way to prevent and reduce the negative impacts of musculoskeletal conditions, improving patients’ lives.

Circle Health Group physiotherapists can work with you to create a programme of exercises that will help your elbow to get back to normal. Starting off gently, these physical therapies will help to build strength and restore motion to your arm.

Your physical therapist will recommend strengthening exercises for you to do several times a day. It is important to follow your exercise regime diligently to reap its benefits.

Learn more about physiotherapy here.

Golfer’s elbow surgery

If you have tried other treatments across several months and are still in significant pain, your Consultant might recommend surgery. During the operation, your surgeon will remove any damaged tendons. This should take around half an hour, and you should be able to get back to your regular activities within a few weeks, depending on how the elbow heals.

Elbow pain can be frustrating to live with, but it’s important to know that good help is available. You are not alone.

An appointment with an experienced Consultant at your nearest Circle Health Group hospital can be helpful. They will assess and diagnose the cause of your elbow pain and then discuss any suitable treatment options for your specific situation.

To schedule your visit, book a specialist appointment online today.