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Golfer’s Elbow: Symptoms- Causes-Treatment-Muscles affected

Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition characterized by pain and inflammation at the inner side of the elbow. It is similar to tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), but the pain and discomfort occur on the opposite side of the elbow. It is a common injury among golfers, hence the name, but it can also occur in people who participate in other activities that require repetitive wrist and forearm movements, such as tennis, rowing, and painting.

Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow

The most common symptom of medial epicondylitis is pain on the inside of the elbow. The pain is usually worse when gripping or twisting objects, and it may also be felt in the forearm or wrist. Other symptoms may include:

  • Tenderness on the inside of the elbow
  • Swelling around the elbow
  • Weakness in the forearm muscles
  • Difficulty gripping objects
  • Difficulty turning a doorknob or screw

Causes of Golfer’s Elbow

Medial epicondylitis  is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles that attach to the elbow. This can happen when you repeatedly use these muscles in a forceful or repetitive manner. Activities that can put you at risk of developing golfer’s elbow include:

  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Rowing
  • Painting
  • Carpentry
  • Heavy lifting
  • Computer work

Golfer’s elbow muscles affected

Medial epicondylitis, primarily affects the muscles and tendons on the inner side of the forearm and elbow. The specific muscles involved include:

  1. Flexor Carpi Radialis: This muscle is responsible for flexing the wrist and is located on the inner side of the forearm. It originates from the medial epicondyle of the humerus (the bony bump on the inner side of the elbow) and inserts into the base of the second and third metacarpal bones of the hand.
  2. Pronator Teres: Found on the inner side of the forearm, the pronator teres muscle assists in rotating the forearm to turn the palm facing downward (pronation). It also helps in flexing the elbow. It originates from the medial epicondyle of the humerus and inserts into the radius bone.

These muscles play a significant role in controlling wrist and finger flexion, as well as forearm pronation. When these muscles are overused or subjected to repetitive stress, the tendons that attach them to the medial epicondyle can become inflamed and irritated, leading to golfer’s elbow.

It’s important to note that it can also involve other structures in the elbow, such as the ulnar nerve, which runs close to the medial epicondyle. Irritation or compression of the ulnar nerve can contribute to the symptoms, causing additional discomfort and sensations like tingling or numbness along the inner side of the forearm and hand.

Diagnosis of Golfer’s Elbow

The diagnosis of golfer’s elbow is usually made based on your medical history, physical examination, and imaging tests. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and activities that make the pain worse. They will also examine your elbow for tenderness, swelling, and weakness. In some cases, your doctor may order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to rule out other possible causes of your pain.

Treatment for Golfer’s Elbow

The goal of treatment for golfer’s elbow is to reduce pain and inflammation, and to restore function to the elbow. Treatment options may include:

  • Rest: Avoiding activities that aggravate your pain is important for allowing the elbow to heal. This may mean taking time off from sports or hobbies that are causing pain.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the elbow for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Compression: Wearing a compression sleeve or elastic bandage around the elbow can help to reduce swelling.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility in the elbow. Your physical therapist may also use techniques such as ultrasound, massage, and electrical stimulation to help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Corticosteroid injections can be an effective way to reduce pain and inflammation in the elbow. However, corticosteroid injections should only be used as a short-term treatment, as they can weaken the tendons over time.
  • Surgery: Surgery is rarely needed for golfer’s elbow. However, surgery may be an option if other treatments have not been successful or if the pain is severe.

Prevention of Medial epicondylitis

There are a few things you can do to help prevent golfer’s elbow:

  • Warm up before engaging in activities that put stress on your elbow.
  • Use proper technique when participating in activities that put stress on your elbow.
  • Take breaks from activities that put stress on your elbow.
  • Strengthen the muscles in your forearm and upper arm.
  • Stretch the muscles in your forearm and upper arm.
  • Use tools and equipment that can help to reduce the amount of stress on your elbow.

Conclusion

Golfer’s elbow is a common overuse injury that can be painful and debilitating. However, there are a number of effective treatment options available. With proper treatment, most people with can make a full recovery and return to their normal activities.

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