How is it possible that I have golfer’s elbow when I have never played golf?
Medial epicondylitis is a form of elbow tendinitis that you may more readily recognize as golfer’s elbow. The tendons that run along the inside of the elbow are damaged due to some sort of repetitive motion done with the hand, wrist or forearm. Tennis elbow is far more common. The main difference is that, with tennis elbow, it is the tendons that run along the outside of the elbow that sustain damage.
Another way that golf elbow and tennis elbow are alike is that neither requires any athletic activity. It is quite possible to develop either one of these conditions without ever stepping on a tennis court or playing a round of golf. That said, both of these types of tendinitis are most often found in those who participate in these sports. This is because the motions required to swing golf clubs and tennis racquets are exactly the ones that do this kind of damage, and the fact that they repeat these motions over and over in as close to the same way each time they swing makes these injuries practically inevitable.
Excessive and repetitive stress on the tendons is the cause of golfer’s elbow. This condition can be found in baseball players, archers, weight trainers, gardeners, painters, construction workers, assembly line workers and anyone who repeatedly flexes and twists the wrist for a sustained period of time on a fairly regular basis. In general, as we age, we are also more vulnerable to suffering from these tendon disorders even through our typical daily routines.
Risk Factors That Contribute to the Development of Golfer’s Elbow
Anyone who overdoes it with these kinds of repetitive motions is a candidate for developing golfer’s elbow. There are, however, other contributing factors that can increase the risk. Some of the more common of these include:
- Age – as we age, the list starts growing of all the things that we are now more likely to encounter, few, if any, of them seemingly anything to look forward to. For tendonitis, the magic age is “over 40”. This is because that’s when the tendons begin to lose their elasticity and become more susceptible to tears.
- Smoking – if there was a contest for the one factor that shows up on the most “risk factor” lists, the prize would go to smoking. In this case, it is believed to weaken the tendons by interfering with circulation.
What Are the Symptoms?
Sometimes golfer’s elbow can sneak up on you gradually and, other times, your elbow feels fine one minute and you are in pain the next. There are some symptoms associated with golfer’s elbow that can tip you off that that is what might be causing your discomfort. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Pain will be the first indicator, it will be felt between the elbow and wrist, on the inside of the forearm
- Shaking hands or flexing the wrist (with the palm facing downward) will likely be painful
- Loss of strength and coordination in the hand, making it very difficult to grasp anything
- Numbness or tingling, located between the last two fingers and the elbow
Whether you are able to identify the majority of these symptoms for golfer’s elbow or not, it is always advisable to consult with your own physician for any sort of ongoing pain or loss of mobility. In addition to establishing a diagnosis through a detailed history and examination, our physiatrists offer the full spectrum of non-surgical care inclusive of bracing, modalities, medication and rehabilitative therapies, acupuncture, ultrasound guided injections, and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections in select cases.
If you have questions about elbow or wrist pain or any other orthopedic concerns, the physicians and staff of Long Island Spine Rehabilitation are very experienced in a wide range of orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions and are committed to providing personalized care in a state-of-the-art facility. To schedule an appointment, or if you just have questions, please use our convenient online contact form by clicking here.