What is Golfer's Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that occurs when the tendons that attach to the inner part of the elbow become inflamed or damaged. This can cause pain and tenderness in the inner part of the elbow and forearm, and can sometimes radiate down towards the wrist. This overuse can cause small tears in the tendons, leading to pain and inflammation.
Golfer’s elbow is usually caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle, which is the bony bump on the inner part of the elbow. It is common among golfers, but can also affect people who perform repetitive motions with their wrist and arm, such as tennis players, carpenters, and painters.
What causes Golfer's Elbow?
1. Muscle Overuse
Any repetitive task that requires gripping can increase the demand on forearm muscles and tendons.
This can lead to overuse of the inner forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle (bony bump on the inner part of the elbow), which can cause small tears in the tendons, leading to pain and inflammation.
2. Direct Trauma
A direct blow to the inner aspect of the elbow, such as sustaining contact in sport or via car accident can injure the muscles and tendons. However, it is important to note that repetitive stress is more likely to be the cause of tennis elbow.
3. Improper Gripping Mechanics
Certain gripping techniques such as repetitive flexion in the wrist and excessively tight grips require more inner forearm muscle use, which can cause strains and tears to the muscles on the inner elbow.
4. Suboptimal Shoulder Mechanics
In some cases, shoulder dysfunction relating to weakness or decreased mobility can be compensated for via excessive forearm recruitment, which can cause strain and small tears to the inner forearm muscles.
How does physiotherapy Treat Golfer's Elbow?
Resolves the root cause
During the assessment, your therapist will determine why your golfer’s elbow is occurring. Your therapist will then provide treatments, prescribe exercises, and educate you on how to reverse your golfer’s elbow symptoms.
1. Manual Therapy
Myofascial release: to reduce pain, tightness, and inflammation of the muscles, joints, nerves, and fascia of the affected areas.
Joint mobilization: to promote smooth joint movement and mobility of the elbow, wrist, and other affected areas.
2. Biomechanical Optimization
Movement pattern conditioning: optimizing gripping mechanics and appropriate forearm muscle recruitment, while also incorporating shoulder recruitment to reduce load on the forearm and elbow.
3. Exercise Therapy
Stretching: to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension in the upper arms and forearms.
Strengthening: to improve the activation and stability of the muscles around the elbow, shoulder, and wrist to prevent compensations, reduce future injuries, and restore optimal nerve function.
Home exercise program: individualized exercise prescription to restore optimal and balanced movement.
Shockwave therapy: use of high-energy sound waves to improve blood flow, break down scar tissue, regrow new tissue, reduce pain, and stimulate healing processes.
Taping: to support the medial forearm musculature and reduce stress.
Acupuncture: use of thin needles to improve local and systemic function, regulate the nervous system, and promote the body’s natural healing processes.
Heat and cold therapy: to manage reduce pain and tension or control inflammation.
Electrostimulation: use of electrical currents to stimulate muscles and reduce pain.
Ultrasound: use of high-frequency sound waves to produce deep tissue heating to reduce muscle tension, fascial tension, and inflammation.
Laser therapy: to improve blood flow, reduce pain and inflammation, and promote tissue healing.
Recommendations regarding lifestyle and activity modifications, posture, and sleeping position to help reduce load, risk of recurrence, and further injury.