WHAT IS GOLFERS ELBOW AND WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
Golfers elbow is an overuse injury characterised by pain on the inside of the elbow. Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfers elbow effect the tendons of the wrist flexor muscles on the palm side of the forearm. These tendons join the wrist flexors to an area of bone on the inside of the elbow, known as the medial epicondyle.
The wrist flexor muscles allow you to grip, twist your arm and flex your wrist towards. When they are subjected to prolonged repetitive movements, tiny tears can occur in the area of the tendon where it joins the wrist flexor muscles. This type of injury is sometimes referred to as a tendonopathy.
Golfers elbow is a common injury in sports, hobbies and occupations that require repetitive gripping, throwing or elbow movements. It is also common in individuals who frequently use vibrating tools. The typical aggravating activities would include computer work, DIY, chopping, painting or climbing.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Dull ache on the bony bump on the inside of the elbow, that may radiate into the forearm
- Pain has gradually worsened over time
- Pain when twisting the arm – eg opening a jar
- Pain gripping objects or shaking hands
- Pain with flexing the wrist
- Weak grip
- Stiff elbow
HOW CAN TENNIS ELBOW BE TREATED?
- Try to avoid or modify aggravating activities
- Try to avoid lifting heavy objects that can strain the tendons
- Warm or ice pack may provide transient pain relief
Chiropractic or physiotherapy can be helpful and may use a combination of massage, ultrasound and manipulation techniques alongside therapeutic exercises.
Research has demonstrated Extracorporeal Shockwave therapy to be an effective treatment for tennis elbow. Extracorporeal Shockwave therapy involves using a device that fires high energy shock waves at a specific frequency to stimulate cells within the tendon to create new collagen fibres for tendon repair. The shockwaves also help desensitise the nerves, leading to pain reduction.
Pain killers such as paracetamol or non-steroid anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen may help reduce pain levels.
Corticosteroid injections may offer short term pain relief, but research does show long term relief to be poor.
If none of the above options work, then surgery maybe recommended if the pain is severe and persistent.