An inflammatory condition of the medial epicondyle, golfer’s elbow is a painful injury that afflicts people of all activity levels. It is not regarded as a serious injury and can be treated in most cases with therapeutic intervention and pain relievers. More severe cases of golfer’s elbow could require steroid injections or treatment.
Causes of Golfer’s Elbow
Given its name, it could be assumed that playing golf or other sports like baseball and tennis causes this injury in most incidences. While athletes in these sports can in fact develop golfer’s elbow, people who do not engage in athletic activities at all can develop this painful swelling. It is most commonly caused by:
• Repeated Movements: People who overuse this joint in their arms while working or enjoying hobbies can develop golfer’s elbow. The repeated motions put strain on the joint without allowing it to rest and heal.
• Climbing or Reaching: Rock climbers and even people who use their arms to pull down or lift heavy objects can suffer from this injury. The strain from extending their arms causes these individuals’ elbow tendons to swell and become painful.
• Gripping: Athletes who grip their rackets, clubs, and baseballs too tight can put their elbows at an increased risk of injury. Gripping this equipment, combined with bad form, contributes to many cases of sports-related golfer’s elbow.
Treatment of Golfer’s Elbow
Despite it being recognized by the medical community as a relatively minor injury, golfer’s elbow still causes injured individuals significant amounts of pain. Upon being diagnosed with this condition, patients may be encouraged to follow these recommendations to find relief from the injury:
• Over-the-Counter Medications: Before they are given strong prescription painkillers, patients may first be advised to use over-the-counter medications for their pain. Ibuprofen, for example, reduces swelling while relieving minor discomfort from golfer’s elbow.
• Ice: People also could be encouraged to use ice packs on their elbows to reduce the swelling. The cold from the ice will constrict the blood vessels in the affected area, helping the inflammation in this joint subside.
• Slings: Along with using pain relievers and ice packs, patients can additionally be given a sling to wear for a few days after they are injured. The elbow sling restricts the movement of that joint and prevents the injury from being aggravated.
• Steroid Injections: Golfer’s elbow that is not remedied by these suggestions may be treated with steroid injections. Patients who receive injections typically suffer from more extensive swelling that causes them significant amounts of pain.
• Surgery: Likewise, more serious golfer’s elbow cases may require surgical intervention. This treatment particularly comes into play for athletes who suffer from repeated cases of this injury and are causing irreversible damage to this joint with each reinjury.
Even with its misleading name, golfer’s elbow is an injury that afflicts people who may or may not be athletes. Playing sports, as well as engaging in seemingly mundane activities like lifting heavy objects or using a hammer while working, can lead to the medial epicondyle of this joint becoming swollen and painful. People afflicted with golfer’s elbow can try a variety of treatment methods in their bid for pain relief. Their doctors may encourage them to use over-the-counter medications or use ice packs until the swelling subside. More serious cases require steroid injections or surgery.