Golfer Elbow

peer review

This content has been reviewed and approved by Kathy Doubleday DPT, OCS.

Golfer elbow isn’t as well-known as tennis elbow, and that may be due to the fact that less than 1% of the population is affected by golfer’s elbow. However, it’s a similar type of injury to tennis elbow in that it is typically caused by repetitive or strenuous movements, such as playing golf or performing manual work.

The good news is that symptoms of golfer elbow typically resolve within a few months with conservative treatment options, and rarely require surgery.

Golfer elbow is caused by damage to the muscles and tendons that are responsible for controlling the wrists and fingers. Injury is often related to repeated or excessive stress in the form of forceful wrist and finger movements including gripping, flexing, and/or swinging. These movements lead to tiny tears in the tendons, leading to uncomfortable and disruptive symptoms.

Improper technique when hitting or throwing, improper lifting technique, and inappropriate equipment can contribute to golfer elbow.

  • Pain and tenderness of the inside of the elbow, that may extend into the upper arm, forearm, and/or hand.
  • Elbow stiffness.
  • Hand and wrist weakness.
  • Numbness or tingling that may radiate into the fingers, most commonly the ring and baby fingers.
  • Rest may relieve symptoms; however, in some cases, pain may interfere with sleep.

Treatment of golfer elbow commonly includes:

  • Rest – avoiding activities that irritate symptoms can help allow the muscles and tendons time to heal.
  • Ice – icing the area for 15 minutes at a time can help to decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – ibuprofen and/or naproxen can help to decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Bracing using a counterforce brace – this type of brace may be recommended to decrease stress on the muscles and tendons.
  • Night splinting using a cock-up wrist splint may help to relieve symptoms.
  • Stretching and strengthening – exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the forearm and wrist can help to decrease pain and inflammation, and improve function.

Printable Golfer Elbow Exercises (pdf)

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