There’s a commonly held misconception that golfer’s elbow is exclusive to golfers. Unfortunately, the condition has a farther reach than just that. Golfer’s elbow can affect anyone who partakes in repetitive hand, wrist, or forearm movements.
Other than golf, for example, there are plenty of sports that involve these kinds of movements, including tennis, baseball, and bowling. In fact, another common name for golfer’s elbow is pitcher’s elbow.
Of course, outside of the sports world, there are other facets of life that involve repetitive motions of these body parts. For instance, golfer’s elbow is also known to affect people who regularly use screwdrivers, paintbrushes, and rakes.
Much like its more well-known brother—tennis elbow—golfer’s elbow is a form of tendinitis. Tendinitis is a nasty injury that involves the inflammation or agitation of a tendon (the structure in the body that attaches muscles to bones). Specifically, with golfer’s elbow, the tendons in question are responsible for connecting the elbow to the forearm. The pain from this condition originates from the epicondyles, which are the bony bumps at the bottom of the humerus. Exerting the fingers or twisting the wrist will cause irritation to these structures, which leads to discomfort.
If you suspect that you have golfer’s elbow, then you should contact NJ Spine & Orthopedic at (855) 586-2615. While it may be true that the primary mode of treatment for this condition is pain medication and rest, a trained professional will be able to give you further advice on how to address your injury. For example, there are highly specific strengthening and flexibility exercises for golfer’s elbow that our doctors will be able to prescribe to you.
Being a tendonitis injury, we know that golfer’s elbow occurs due to repetitive strain on certain body parts—in this case, your wrists and fingers. Aside from exerting too much force on these structures on a regular basis, you may also find yourself with golfer’s elbow if you exhibit improper lifting or throwing techniques. Likewise, if you do not warm up your wrists and fingers appropriately (or at all), you may soon find yourself with this injury.
As mentioned, we also know that golfer’s elbow doesn’t exclusively affect golfers. Injuries simply occur because of certain stressors on certain structures. After all, pain doesn’t discriminate. Just think: There are plenty of sports that apply strain on your wrists and fingers, such as racket sports, football, javelin throwing, baseball, and more.
But, maybe you don’t play sports at all. Sadly, golfer’s elbow may find you at the gym as well. For example, if you like to lift heavy weights, you can easily injure the tendons in question. Especially if you neglect to use proper lifting technique.
For instance, a common mistake made by inexperienced weightlifters is curling the wrists while working out the biceps. This applies unnecessary stress to both the elbow muscles and the adjacent tendons.
Of course, for muscle in your body, you can be guaranteed that there is at least one occupation out there that involves repetitive stress to that specific structure. You use your wrists and fingers to accomplish a lot of different tasks. Especially if you work in construction or carpentry. In other words, golfer’s elbow has a way of finding you even if you don’t exercise or play sports.
Additionally, you may be at a higher risk of developing the condition if:
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Tendonitis injuries do not tend to deviate very much when it comes to the negative symptoms that manifest with them. Pain and tenderness, for instance, are to be expected with any manner of injury in this category. Specifically, with golfer’s elbow, the pain is usually found along the inner side of the elbow. That being said, sometimes this discomfort may radiate down along the inside of the forearm. As you may be able to guess, this pain only worsens when the patient performs motions that strain these structures.
It is also common to experience feelings of stiffness. In the absolute worst-case scenarios, this stiffness may be severe enough that it prevents the patient from being able to properly form a fist. Aside from stiffness, the patient should also expect to experience some weakness in the hands and wrists. Additionally, some patients report that they have sensations of numbness or tingling that accompany their golfer’s elbow. Generally speaking, sensations such as these are most often felt in one or more of the digits (most often, in the little and ring fingers).
Golfer’s elbow may occur with a sudden or gradual onset, so it may not always be immediately apparent that you have this condition. If you don’t find relief through rest and pain medication, then you should seek out medical consultation. Furthermore, in some instances, it may be necessary to seek out immediate medical evaluation. For example, if your elbow appears deformed, or if you have a fever along with your elbow inflammation, then you should seek immediate care.
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When it comes to golfer’s elbow, the best form of treatment is prevention. There are a number of ways to do this. In fact, it is quite likely that you already are taking preventative measures against injury and don’t even know it! For instance, if you are already practicing proper lifting and form techniques—or if you take breaks at the first signs of elbow pain—then you are on the right track. Additionally, if you have some of the risk factors for the condition, then it may also be a good idea to perform some forearm strengthening exercises to combat this.
But, maybe you already have golfer’s elbow and are wondering what to do. Thankfully, there are treatment options available to you that you can implement at home. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are often highly effective in treating the condition. Aside from that, you will also witness great results from simply resting your elbow. You may find even more relief through the application of ice or through utilizing a brace. Additionally, performing stretches and strengthening exercises are not a bad idea. But, you should probably seek out professional advice for that. You don’t want to hurt yourself if you are already injured, after all.
In exceptionally rare cases, there are surgical treatment options for golfer’s elbow. However, your doctor will not usually consider these unless you haven’t responded to conservative methods within a 6-12 month period. Typically, doctors perform a medial epicondyle release to treat golfer’s elbow. This procedure involves removing the affected tendon (or a portion of it) and replacing it with a healthy donor tendon.
If your golfer’s elbow has not improved with conservative treatment methods, please contact NJ Spine & Orthopedic at (855) 586-2615. Our team of highly trained surgeons and medical staff are well-versed in the most up-to-date and minimally invasive procedures. You can rest assured in knowing that we will put you on an individual care plan that is tailored to your unique needs. Contact us today!
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