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Golfer’s elbow: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis)

Golfer’s elbow is a common orthopaedic condition characterized by the inflammation of tendons which are attached to the inner side of the elbow joint. Tendons are ends of the muscles that are attached to the bone. Increased wear and tear of the flexor muscles of the forearm is considered the common cause of golfer’s elbow.

Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis): Incidence, age and sex

Golfer’s elbow is a commonly encountered orthopaedic problem, especially in athletes. It may occur in any age group; however it is more common in middle-aged and older adults. There seems to be no sex predilection.

Signs and symptoms of golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis): Diagnosis

An individual with golfer’s elbow will present with pain and tenderness at the inner side of the elbow joint. It may worsen with movements at the elbow joint. Sometimes, an obvious swelling may also be present. Limitation of certain movements like lifting or flexing the wrist may be seen, which results from pain. Some individuals also experience reduction in grip of affected hands.

The diagnosis can be made on detailed physical examination by a bone specialist. Imaging tests like x-ray and MRI scans are recommended if diagnosis is in doubt.

Causes and prevention of golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis)

Golfer’s elbow, as the name suggests is due to excessive wear and tear of the flexor tendons at elbow joint. It has been seen commonly in individuals who play golf regularly. Though it is commonly encountered in athletes who have repeated use of their forearms; but carpenters or gardeners are also prone to getting golfer’s elbow.

Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis): Complications

Golfer’s elbow is generally a self-limiting condition which resolves on its own. However, it is a disorder which has a high rate of recurrence.

Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis): Treatment

Golfer’s elbow, in most cases does not require any treatment. It can resolve on its own. First and foremost, discontinuation of sports or any other activity which has led to this condition is strongly recommended. In acute instances, adequate rest to the affected forearm and cold compress to the affected elbow may reduce the inflammatory signs. Medications like anti inflammatory gels or oral NSAIDs may be prescribed to minimise pain and swelling. Sometimes, splinting of affected forearm or braces may be needed in severe cases. An occupational therapist may suggest muscle strengthening exercises which are to be done after the condition improves, to prevent further episodes. Surgical intervention may be needed in seldom cases wherein release and repair of affected tendons is done.