Elbow pain in golfers

With Vancouver weather improving, avid golfers can barely contain their excitement.  Unfortunately, with the increase in golf popularity, there is also an increase risk of golf related injuries.  The most common area to be injured, especially in amateur golfers, is the elbow.  Ah yes, the infamous golfer’s elbow.  Golfer’s elbow is a common expression referring to inner, medial elbow pain.  Golfer’s elbow is often the result of jarring impact of the golf club as it hit the ground when the golfer misses the ball.

Although people often associate golfer’s elbow with golfing, it is not the most common golf related injury.  Surprise?  Outer, lateral elbow pain, lateral epicondylosis, is five times more common than golfer’s elbow.  Why is that?  In golfers, lateral epicondylosis is from repetitive forearm extension, excessive gripping of the club during the swing and poor swing technique.

Whether you ended up with lateral epicondylosis from golfing, tennis or from work, the most common cause of lateral epicondylosis is repetitive eccentric contraction and micro-traumatic tearing of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle and the common wrist extensor tendon.  So when you experience elbow pain with computer typing, hitting golf balls or having trouble picking up heavy objects with your hand, be mindful of lateral epicondylosis.  The pain is often localized to the lateral aspect of the elbow but it can radiate down the forearm with carrying items in the hand or certain elbow, forearm or wrist movement.  Lateral epicondylosis pain is often more in the morning or after the elbow has been held in a flexed position for extended time.

If you have elbow pain, icing and taking Tylenol, Advil, ibuprofen, etc., may provide some initial relief.  However, don’t delay the assessment as chronic lateral epicondylosis can cause calcific tendonitis in the common extensor tendon and posterior interosseous nerve entrapment in the forearm.

If an elbow brace has been suggested, than consider wearing a counter-force wrist extensor brace.  Place the brace slightly below elbow lateral epicondyle and not over it to reduce the stress and strain loads to the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle and the common wrist extensor tendon.

Proper treatment of lateral epicondylosis associated with golfing should include breaking down the adhesion and scar tissues within the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle and the common wrist extensor tendon, incorporating appropriate rehab exercises and stretching and improving golf swing technique.

I hope this month blog provide you with some insight for elbow pain.  Thank you for reading.  Cheers!  🙂