Golfer’s Elbow

Overview

What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, occurs when the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to the bone rub on the inside of your elbow, causing elbow pain. (Tendons are a type of connective tissue that connect muscle to bone.)

Golfer’s elbow can affect anyone who makes repetitive wrist or finger-clenching motions, including tennis players. In many cases, rest and physical therapy can reduce your elbow pain and get you back to the activities you enjoy most.

The Aurora Difference

Your Place for Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

As one of the largest regional health systems in Wisconsin, we have a sizable team of specialists experienced in treating golfer’s elbow.

We offer:

  • Sports medicine and upper extremity experts: Many of our orthopedic doctors have additional training in sports medicine. So no matter where you go for care, you’ll be diagnosed and treated by an expert in elbow pain. Learn more about orthopedic sports health at Aurora.
  • Convenient testing and treatment: At Aurora, you can get a diagnosis quickly, with many locations offering same-day appointments. Our clinics are also conveniently located across eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, making it easy to find care close to home.
  • Comprehensive care: We have almost everything you need in one integrated health system. Your doctor will coordinate closely with sports health experts, orthopedists, physical therapists and holistic treatment specialists to monitor your progress and help you recover faster. Learn more about the Aurora difference.

Symptoms & Causes

Signs of Golfer’s Elbow

Symptoms of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Pain on the inside of your elbow that gets worse when you swing a golf club or make a fist
  • Elbow stiffness
  • Wrist pain or weakness
  • Tingling or numbness in your fingers

Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, a condition that causes pain on the outside of the elbow. Learn more about tennis elbow.

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?

Repetitive or forceful motions of the wrist and fingers can damage muscles and tendons, causing golfer’s elbow. These kind of motions are common if you participate in:

  • Golf
  • Racket and throwing sports
  • Weight lifting
  • Any activity where you repeatedly bend your elbow, including yard work

Improper form or conditioning can also be a reason you develop golfer’s elbow. At Aurora, we offer conditioning and training programs to help athletes and active adults prevent injuries, including our:

Diagnosis & Treatment

Golfer’s Elbow Tests & Imaging

Doctors typically diagnose golfer’s elbow with a physical exam. During your visit, your doctor will look at your elbow, wrist and fingers to see how well you can move them.

Your doctor may also use an X-ray to help rule out conditions like an elbow fracture. An X-ray is a quick, painless imaging test that takes pictures of your bones and internal structures.

Learn more about orthopedic diagnosis at Aurora.

Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

Doctors treat most cases of golfer’s elbow with non-surgical methods, which will usually help you recover within 3 months. Your doctor may recommend treatments that include:

  • Rest: Repetitive motions and sports activities can make golfer’s elbow worse. You might also need to wear a brace on your arm.
  • Ice: Icing your elbow 3 to 4 times daily for up to 20 minutes can help relieve elbow pain. It’s important to ice your elbow as directed by your doctor.
  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen sodium (Aleve®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) may reduce inflammation. Find out more about orthopedic pain we treat at Aurora.
  • Physical therapy: Special exercises to stretch and strengthen your muscles can help speed up your recovery. Learn more about our physical therapy services.

In rare cases, you may need surgery, especially if your elbow pain doesn’t get better within a year. Our orthopedists are experts in minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, which uses small incisions and thin, flexible instruments to repair injuries. This type of surgery offers faster recovery and minimal scarring compared to traditional, open surgery.

Find out more about our treatments for elbow, wrist and hand pain.

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