Advice and information for patients
Golfer's elbow (also known as medial epicondylalgia) is a condition that causes pain on the inside of the elbow, usually as the result of repetitive 'overstrain' of tendons used for moving the wrist and hand, that attach on the inside of the elbow.
Despite its name, it does not just affect people who play golf. It also affects workers who do repeated activities with their hands, wrists or arms. It can, however, occur in any individual.
What are the symptoms of golfer's elbow?
The level of pain can vary from person to person, with some people reporting a mild niggle that comes and goes and others reporting a severe ache that can keep them awake at night.
The main symptoms of golfer's elbow include:
- Pain or tenderness on the bony lump on the inside of the elbow
- Pain when gripping, doing activities such as shaking hands
- Pain when lifting items such as a full kettle
- Pain with twisting such as unscrewing the lid on a jar or carrying shopping
- Pain with completely straightening the elbow
What causes golfer's elbow?
Anyone can develop it but it's usually seen in people age 40 to 60 years old. Golfer's elbow is thought of as an overuse injury, and is linked with activities that involve repeated gripping, lifting and twisting with the hand and wrist.
Although golfer's elbow is painful, it shouldn't cause any lasting damage and more than 80 per cent of people with golfer's elbow recover with straightforward treatment.
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis is usually made from the patient's history and a simple examination without the need for special investigations. A scan may be done if there is uncertainty about the diagnosis, but this is unusual for golfer's elbow.
How can I manage my golfer's elbow?
The self-management advice provided below can help minimise symptoms and facilitate the healing process.
Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory gels may be helpful to control the pain and allow you to continue exercising. Discuss this with your GP or pharmacist.
The research into golfer's elbow consistently shows that strengthening and stretching exercises are the most important things you can do to help ease your elbow symptoms, and stop them recurring.
Activity modification can also help your symptoms. This simply means trying to change or adjust your grip or the position of your hand and wrist. For example, it may mean repositioning your mouse when using your computer
Further management options
If there is no response to the self-management information above within four to six weeks, please seek further advice from your physiotherapist or GP.