Golfer’s Elbow Treatment in Denver
As summer continues in Denver, we continue to see more cases of Golfer’s elbow, or, if you prefer the medical term, medial epicondylitis. Golfer’s elbow refers to pain on the inside of the elbow. As more golfers hit the links after a long winter here in Denver—we see more and more people seeking treatment for Golfer’s elbow.
With this condition, there is generally damage to a tendon, at a cellular level, of the medial epicondyle of the elbow (the rounded area). This injury involves the forearm flexor muscles and pain may spread into your forearm and wrist. Tissue injury occurs when tight muscles and tendons pull on the attachment point of the bone, causing pain on the inside of the elbow.
The anterior forearm contains several muscles that are involved with flexing the wrist, fingers, and thumb. The tendons of these muscles come together in a common sheath. In response to minor injury, overuse, or sometimes for no obvious reason at all, this area becomes inflamed and the gripping and wrist rotation necessary for golf becomes increasingly difficult.
- Sharp or dull pain on the inside of the elbow
- Difficulty turning door knobs
- Pain with lifting or gripping small objects with your palm down
- Elbow pain when shaking hands
Treatment with an occupational therapist is necessary for Golfer’s elbow. Before therapy, the following R.I.C.E. treatments can be used:
• Resting the arm will alleviate discomfort because golfer’s elbow is an injury caused by overuse
• Ice the affected area
• Compression and Elevation – using a tennis elbow splint for compression, a pad can be placed in front of the proximal forearm. The splint is made in 30–45 degrees of elbow flexion. A daytime elbow pad also may be useful, by limiting additional trauma to the nerve.
Therapy includes a variety of exercises for muscle/tendon reconditioning, starting with stretching and gradual strengthening of the flexor-pronator muscles. Strengthening begins with isometrics and progresses to exercises extending the range of motion back to where it once was. After strengthening exercises, it is recommended to ice the area to relieve inflammation.
The recovery rate for golfer’s elbow is high—if treated early. If left unattended, patients may need to progress to steroid injection. The good news, though, is that less than 10% of patients seen for this condition will need to resort to surgery.