Golfer's Elbow: FAQ

Christopher C. Dodson, MD August 21st, 2015

If you golf, play tennis, or do other activities which involve the repeated swinging of your arm, you may notice pain developing on the inner side of your elbow. If so, you may be experiencing Golfer’s elbow, a form of tendonitis similar to tennis elbow. Also known as medial epicondylitis, this condition is caused by the overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, leading to inflammation and pain around the joint.  

At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, we see many cases of this condition each year, and we often hear patients asking similar questions each time. So, if you have been diagnosed with this form of tendonitis, get the answers to some of your most urgent questions below. 
What Are the Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow?
Is that pain in your elbow really a symptom of Golfer’s elbow? Or is it the closely related tennis elbow? To answer these questions, you need to know the symptoms of each condition. Symptoms of Golfer’s elbow include: 
  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of your elbow, potentially extending along the inner side of your forearm
  • Stiffness in the elbow
  • Weakness in the hands and wrists
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in one or more fingers
Tennis elbow shares many of these same symptoms, but the pain tends to be centered on the outside of the elbow and forearm. In both cases, this pain may appear either suddenly or gradually, getting worse with use. 
How Is This Condition Diagnosed? 
If you are experiencing the above symptoms, you should contact a doctor before your condition gets any worse. When you make your appointment, your doctor will typically perform a physical exam and ask you about your medical history. In certain cases, an X-ray can be used to rule out other sources of elbow pain, although this is not a common practice.
How Is Golfer’s Elbow Treated?
The good news is that Golfer’s elbow is highly treatable. It rarely requires surgery and is typically treated with proper rest and rehabilitation practices. These may include:
  • Rest is one of the first steps to take to treat the pain of any form of tendonitis.
  • Changing your technique or swing mechanics may help to resolve the pain of this condition.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications can help to control inflammation and pain.
  • Stretching and exercise help to strengthen the tendons and muscles involved in this condition, helping to prevent the problem from recurring.
  • Cortisone injections may provide relief if the other, more conservative treatments above are ineffective.
In most cases, a combination of some of the above treatment options is effective to relieve the pain of Golfer’s elbow, allowing you to get back on the green sooner. 
Where Should I Go For Treatment?
If you believe that you are experiencing this condition, it is important to talk with a doctor who has specialized in orthopaedics of the elbow or in sports medicine. This focused expertise will help your physician to accurately assess your condition and to guide you to the most promising treatment options to help you get back in the game as soon as possible. 
If you live in the Philadelphia or South Jersey area, you can find the doctors you need at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. Our team of shoulder & elbow specialists, as well as our sports medicine team, are on call to offer the diagnosis and to guide you to the most effective treatment options. 
For more information, or to make an appointment, contact us today at 1.800.321.9999.

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