Golfer’s elbow is best known as a condition of the elbow that causes pain in the muscles of the forearm. This pain may also extend to the wrist or, in some instances, the hand.
The elbow is a hinged joint that consists of three bones: the humerus, the ulna, and the radius. The ends of each of the bones are covered with cartilage, which has a rubbery consistency that allows the joints to absorb force and shock. These three bones are held together with ligaments that form the joint capsule. The joint capsule is a sac filled with fluid that surrounds and lubricates the joint, allowing joints to slide easily against one another.
On both the inside (medial) and outside (lateral) of the elbow joint lies attachment of various tendons. The muscles which extend the wrist and fingers attach on the lateral portion of the elbow and those that bend the wrist and fingers attach on the medial portion. These tendon insertions on both epicondyles are common locations of tendonitis.
Golfer’s elbow is known as a condition that causes pain where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the medial epicondyle on the inside of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow bears many similarities to tennis elbow which occurs on the lateral epicondyle.
Medial Epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) is caused by gradual damage to the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers. This damage is directly related to overuse and the repeated stress of forceful wrist and finger motions. Improper weightlifting, throwing, and hitting can lead to golfer’s elbow. In addition, poor stretching can have a direct effect of the damage done to the tendons and muscles that control the wrist and fingers.
There are many occupations and sports that can lead to golfer’s elbow other than golf. These include tennis, football, hockey, baseball, archery, javelin throwing, weightlifting, construction, plumbing, and carpentry.
There are many symptoms associated with golfer’s elbow. Familiarizing oneself with the symptoms can help rule out other conditions.
Pain And Tenderness
- Pain is usually felt on the inside of the elbow as it relates to golfer’s elbow. The pain can sometimes extend along the inner side of the forearm. Pain typically worsens with repeated motions that stress the use of the elbow, forearms, wrists, or hands.
- Tendons and muscles extending down the medial forearm may begin to feel stiff. Pain often occurs when attempting to make a fist.
- Weakness of the wrist or hand is common with golfer’s elbow. The muscles and tendons become weak as a result of pain and inflammation.
Numbness or tingling
- Usually tingling or numbness sensations are felt in one or more of the medial sides fingers, usually the ring or pinky finger.
Golfer’s elbow is normally diagnosed based on a patient’s medical history and physical exam. The clinician may apply pressure to the affected area(s) or ask the patient to move their wrist, elbow, or forearm in various ways. This allows the clinical team to evaluate the levels of pain and stiffness.
X-Rays may also be utilized to help clinicians rule out other conditions that cause elbow, forearm and wrist pain such as arthritis or a mild fractures. MRIs are performed in rare cases.
If you or a loved one are currently experiencing any symptoms of golfer’s elbow, or have been diagnosed with golfer’s elbow, contact the experts at LALL Orthopedics + for a comprehensive evaluation today.
Dr. Ajay C. Lall is a former dual sport NCAA collegiate athlete (football and track & field), American board certified, triple fellowship-trained expert orthopedic surgeon who specializes in diagnosing and treating elbow injuries. He treats non-athletes and athletes at all levels of play from collegiate to professional to the Olympic level. Dr. Lall is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon who cares for all patients like family. Contact LALL Orthopedics + to schedule a consultation, receive the correct diagnosis, and undergo state-of-the-art treatment options.
At a Glance
Ajay C. Lall, MD, MS, FAAOS
- Board Certified – Orthopedic Surgery
- Triple Fellowship Trained
- Performs over 750 Surgeries Per Year
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