Can I get Golfer's Elbow Even if I Don't Golf? (Yes!)  

Our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine specialists see a lot of clients who experience issues with their forearms and elbows. The anatomy in that area is complex and specialized, and used constantly in everything from everyday activities to sports. Golfer's elbow is one of the more common complaints we treat in our clinics.  But wait a minute, you're thinking. I don't golf, so that’s one injury I won’t have to worry about. Not necessarily...

Does this sound familiar?

  • You're experiencing pain along the inside of your elbow, on the bony side, whenever you grip something with your hand and fingers.
  • Your wrist feels weak, and it's tender to the touch.
  • It hurts when you rotate your wrist inwards.

It sounds like you've got golfer's elbow. You don't have to golf to get golfer's elbow, as it turns out.

What is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer's elbow, also known as Little League elbow or thrower's elbow in the world of baseball, is called medial epicondylitis in medical terms. It's an injury caused by over using the tendons and muscles of the forearm.

The fingers and thumb are controlled by a series of small muscles that come together in the forearm in something called a tendinous sheath which then attaches to the bone at the elbow.

When the fingers are used repeatedly to grip an object - like a golf club - it can eventually cause inflammation along the wrist up to the elbow. Any activity that involves gripping an object and flexing the wrist can cause medial epicondylitis. Other possible objects may include,

  • Gardening equipment;
  • Hammers and other tools;
  • Any precision equipment.

What Can I Do?

If symptoms have just started, then the first rule is: stop doing the activity that is causing the strain. Resting the area is the best way to help promote healing and reduce the inflammation. Here are some other ideas.

  • Ice packs – use them for about 15 minutes, 3-4 times a day to help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs can provide temporary relief of pain and inflammation, including aspririn, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

If those measures, along with complete rest of the affected area, haven’t relieved any of your symptoms within a few days, your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist is available to help you fully assess and then devise a treatment plan for your condition.

Treatment and Prevention

The treatment plan your Ottawa physiotherapist or other will draw up will be based on a detailed evaluation of your condition. The cause, your current physical condition, lifestyle, and activities may all play a role. Possible treatments include,

  • Corticosteroid injections for temporary relief of pain;
  • PRP – platelet-rich plasma – a procedure that involves enriching your own blood with extra healing platelet cells to promote healing and repair.
  • Surgery in some, rare cases may be required.

Prevention involves taking measures that anyone can do to prevent the kind of repetitive strain injury that results in golfer’s elbow. These include,

  • Strengthening the muscles of the forearm with specifically targeted exercises. Your Ottawa physiotherapy or sports medicine specialist can advise you what exercises would be appropriate for your situation.
  • Lightening the load – you may have inherited those cast iron gardening tools from grandma, but despite their sentimental value, they could be harming your wrist and forearm. When it comes to gripping tools, bats, racquets, or golf clubs, lighter is better.
  • No matter what the activity, practice to ensure proper form, which means keeping the wrist at a natural angle, and avoiding undue straining and twisting.

Whether it is advice or treatment, call our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics for your consultation today.


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