Golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow — medically known as medial epicondylitis, the sporting names might lead you to believe that it’s only on the links or the courts where you might develop this painful condition. On the contrary, 90% of those who develop golfer’s elbow do so outside of sports.
To help shed some light on golfer’s elbow, the team here at Genesis Orthopaedic and Spine focuses on this musculoskeletal condition in this month’s blog post. Here’s a look at what golfer’s elbow is, who can develop the condition, and how we go about resolving the problem so you can enjoy pain-free movement in your elbow again.
The cause of golfer’s elbow
To understand golfer’s elbow, we have to take a quick look at the anatomy of your elbow, forearm, and wrist. The inside bump of your elbow is called the medial epicondyle, which serves as an anchor for a tendon that connects your wrist flexors — the muscles in your forearm that pull your hand toward your arm.
When you use your wrist flexors, the contraction of the muscle pulls on the tendon that’s attached to your elbow. In turn, this tendon pulls on the anchor bone in your elbow.
When you develop golfer’s elbow, it’s typically due to overusing the muscles on the inside of your forearm, which can lead to damage and/or inflammation in the muscles and tendons.
Signs of golfer’s elbow
The symptoms of golfer’s elbow mainly involve pain, which can start on the inside bump of your elbow and travel into your forearm and wrist. This pain is often worse when you activate your wrist flexors, such as when you grip something or make a fist.
Outside of the pain, the inflammation may also lead to numbness and tingling in your hand.
Who gets golfer’s elbow
The reason why we refer to the condition as golfer’s elbow is because repeatedly gripping and swinging a golf club places added stress on your wrist flexors. The same holds true for gripping a tennis racket when you serve or use your forehand swing.
As we mentioned, however, the condition is hardly confined to sports endeavors, and medial epicondylitis can develop as a result of:
- Hammering nails
- Using an ax or operating a chainsaw
- Carrying heavy items with handles, such as a suitcase
These are just a few examples of activities that place added stress on the connective tissues on the inside of your elbow, forearm, and wrist.
Treating golfer’s elbow
No matter how you develop golfer’s elbow, our goal is to restore pain-free use of your elbow, forearm, and wrist.
In many cases, we start out conservatively with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy.
If your golfer’s elbow doesn’t respond to these measures, we’ve had great success with the following treatments:
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
With PRP therapy, we redirect platelets into the damaged tissues, where they release growth factors that help your tissues to heal.
Lipogems adipose/fat therapy
A form of regenerative medicine, with Lipogems adipose/fat therapy, we supply the resources your body needs to rebuild and repair the damaged muscles and tendons in your forearm and elbow.
A TenJet tenotomy is a minimally invasive procedure in which we remove the damaged tissues in your elbow and forearm.
In many cases, we combine these treatments for the best chances of success. For example, after a TenJet procedure, we provide PRP therapy to help the tissues heal.
If you suspect you have golfer’s elbow, whether you play golf or not, contact one of our offices in Westfield or West Orange, New Jersey, to explore your treatment options.