Golfers’ elbow is a common overload or overuse injury leading to damage of the tendons in the elbow. A tendon is an extension of the muscle that connects to bone or other structures.
Micro-tears of the flexor-pronator tendons occurs with repetitive forced wrist extension and forearm supination. A chronic or repetitive loading of these structures that is more than what the muscles can handle will lead to tissue damage and inflammation.
While this injury in common in golfers (due to the repetitiveness of the the golf swing) people who participate in other sports are also at risk. Similarly, if your job involves repetitive elbow, wrist and hands movements you are also at risk of golfer’s elbow (office workers, carpenters, plumbers, chefs etc.!)
Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
Signs and symptoms of this condition typically develop gradually. Most individuals experience mild pain which gradual worsens over the course of a few weeks or months. At this stage, pain can become unbearable and prevent your ability to perform daily tasks.
The most sensitive region is near the wrist flexors on the medial epicondyle of the humerus, (a bony bump on the inside of the elbow where the muscles attach). You may also experience pain in your forearm, wrist and fingers. The pain may radiate through your forearm when you try to flex your wrist or fingers, or when you try to grip objects.
Other symptoms can include;
- Pain when shaking hands
- Pain moving your elbow
- Weak elbow and wrist
- Pain or tingling sensation
Activities – Typically, the condition develops due to the way you repeatedly use your muscles, especially under load or in awkward positions. Athletic activities, poor work ergonomics or repeated work movements that use the forearm muscles repetitively can cause damage, leading to golfers’ elbow.
Lifting Technique – Incorrect technique can lead to excessive pressure on your muscles or joints leading to overuse. Instability or lack of recruitment through the upper limb can also place extra stress on your joints and muscles of the elbows leading to golfers’ elbow.
Underprepared Muscles – Preparing muscles and joints for the activity or exercise by performing a proper warm up can reduce the risk of injury. A warm up should progressive load the muscles so they are able to accustom to the stress being placed on them.
You’r qualified physiotherapist can perform specific diagnostic tests as well as evaluate a number of factors including occupation, activity level, sports you participate in and the symptoms you report. Your qualified physio will look at your joint and muscles, range of motion and a special test for medial epicondylopathy.
How Physiotherapy can Help!
Joint mobilisation – Mobilisation techniques can promote movement in the joint and reduce stiffness or inflammation that may be present. Manipulation techniques may allow for more vigorous strengthening and stretching exercises resulting in a better and faster recovery process.
Soft Tissue Therapy – This method is used in physiotherapy because it is effective in reducing muscle tension and joint inflammation. Your qualified physiotherapist may use a variety of soft tissue techniques that differ in pressure and depth to target your ligaments, muscles and tendons.
Dry Needling – Dry needling can relieve pain and help improve muscle activation by inserting an acupuncture needle into a trigger point in the muscle. Trigger points are sensitive spots that can cause pain, and may even radiate from one part of the body to another (for example the shoulder to the forearm).
Specific Strengthening – Once pain and inflammation has settled, a progressive forearm strengthening program will help in preventing future flare-ups as the muscles will be stronger and better able to adapt to the imposed load. This phase of rehab will likely also include technique modification and strengthening of other muscles within the upper limb.
Rehab will need to be specific to the load contributing to the injury and the activities you want to return to; therefore, an individualised physiotherapy rehab program will enable the best recovery and best chance of remaining pain free!
Are you at risk of injury? Book an Initial Consultation with one of our qualified Physiotherapists today who can carry out a thorough assessment to determine if you are at risk – BOOK NOW!!!