Golfers Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis): Symptoms & Treatment Options
Golfer’s elbow is an injury involving the muscles that are responsible for wrist, hand and finger flexion. In anatomical terms the exact site of the injury is referred to as the medial epicondyle which is a bony bump situated on the inside of the elbow joint. Hence, golfer’s elbow is also referred to as medial epicondylitis. The complaint is an overuse injury similar to tennis elbow, however lateral epicondylitis affects the outer side of the elbow joint. Golfer’s elbow produces a characteristic pain due to an inflammatory response within the respective muscles and connective tissues. Repetitive flexing, gripping, or swinging type activities contribute to the development of golfer’s elbow.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF GOLFER’S ELBOW
Individuals suffering from golfers elbow will usually report pain when performing gripping tasks or resisted wrist and finger flexion. Pain may also be exacerbated when stretching the forearm, hand and fingers. Typically there is tenderness or moderate sensitivity directly over the inside of the elbow joint. Sufferers may also notice minor to moderate weakness of the forearm muscles during particular activities.
MEDIAL EPICONDYLITIS CAUSES
Golfer’s elbow is caused by damage to the muscle tissue at the point that it attaches to the medial elbow. Golfer’s elbow may be either acute or chronic. Medial epicondylitis is caused by repeated wrist flexion or bending the wrist, particularly against resistance such as holding a golf club or other racquet type sports. Other common causes include throwing, manual labour occupations and computer usage.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER DIAGNOSIS
Reaching an appropriate and therefore accurate diagnosis is important to assist prompt recovery and rehabilitation. Your chosen health care practitioner such as a Sports Chiropractor or Physiotherapist will initially discuss your complaint with you as well as perform various clinical tests. These tests are used to either rule in or rule out potential serious pathology as well as associated conditions. Following this your therapist may suggest that further imaging is required, these images may include Ultrasound or MRI to ascertain the extent of injury and prognosis.
ASSOCIATED CONDITIONS THAT MAY MIMIC PAIN
While it is most likely that you’re suffering golfers elbow, it is important to recognize that various conditions may mimic the symptoms associated with it. Cervical spine injury such as disc bulge or joint sprain may refer pain to the elbow and forearm. This is particularly common in individuals who suffer from median nerve entrapment.
GOLFER’S ELBOW TREATMENT STRATEGIES
Medial epicondylitis have been shown to respond extremely favourably to short term conservative and non-invasive treatment strategies such as Chiropractic and Physiotherapy. The aims of such treatment is to:
- Reduce elbow pain
- Enhance and assist with tissue repair
- Assist with returning normal joint movement and function to the elbow and kinetic chain
- Return individual to normal activities once muscle strength has been restored
Chiropractic & Physiotherapy
Manual therapy may include gentle mobilisation of the elbow and kinetic chain joints, protective strapping such as Kinesiotape, forearm stretches, soft tissue massage and ultimately progression towards strengthening based exercises.
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL US
- Resolution of pain and improvements in overall elbow range of motion were noted following conservative Chiropractic management of Golfers elbow following a Mill’s manipulation. Kaufman, R. (2000). Conservative Chiropractic care for lateral epicondylitis. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, 23(9); 619 – 622.
- Conservative non-invasive management as provided by musculoskeletal practitioners such as Chiropractors, Physiotherapist’s & Osteopaths including eccentric exercise, general joint mobilisation and fascial release appear to be beneficial in the treatment of medial epicondylosis. Hudes, K (2011). Conservative management of a case of medial epicondylitis in a recreational squash player. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 55(1); 26 – 31.