Golfer’s elbow is also called pitcher’s elbow or medial epicondylitis. It is not to be confused with tennis elbow, which is a different condition, although tennis players can get golfer’s elbow.
People who enjoy sports like bowling and baseball or work with their hands using tools like screwdrivers, wrenches and hammers are most prone to developing golfer’s elbow. It is caused by overworking the muscles in the forearm. Motions like gripping, swinging heavy objects or twisting the wrist often cause damage to the tendons attached to the forearm muscles. This is the source of the pain.
People with golfer’s elbow feel pain in the elbow, forearm and wrist. This causes the wrist and sometimes the hand to become weak. The elbow, arm and fingers may become so stiff that moving them is difficult and painful. The pain is worsened by doing the very movements that caused golfer’s elbow to develop in the first place. Sometimes people with golfer’s elbow have numbness in their arm or a tingling sensation as if the limb had gone to sleep or was “waking back up” after being asleep.
If the pain in unbearable, if the elbow looks deformed or if the person develops a fever, contact a doctor at once.
The best treatment for golfer’s elbow is rest and plenty of it. As soon as possible after the pain first starts, apply an ice pack to the painful area. Do not apply ice directly on the skin as that can cause a dangerous burn. Take the ice pack away after 15 or 20 minutes up to four times a day.
NSAID medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce swelling and pain. In some cases when NSAIDs do not help, patients may need a steroid injection into the elbow in order to get relief.
Using a wrist brace or brace for golfer’s elbow can help stabilize the tendon as it heals.
Use the arm gradually to get it back into condition. Some people may need physical therapy to safely get the arm back in use for work or for sport.