Golfer’s elbow

Golfer’s elbow is a painful condition caused by wear and tear of the tendons on the medial (inner) side of the elbow.


What causes golfer’s elbow?

Golfer’s elbow (sometimes also called medial epicondylitis) is caused by degeneration (wear and tear) of the common flexor tendon on the medial side of the elbow. As we approach middle age, degeneration can make our tendons more prone to injury, particularly if exposed to repeated stress. The golf swing is the classic cause, but it can also be caused by racquet sports, by using a computer and mouse for long periods, or even by day to day activities. In most cases it is repetitive low level strain rather than a sudden isolated injury which triggers golfer’s elbow. A vicious circle is then established as the degenerate tendon is slow to heal and at the same time is also more prone to repeated injury and micro-tears from further low-level forces.

What is the difference between golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow?

Very little other than the affected site. Tennis elbow affects the tendons on the lateral (outer) side of the elbow. These are the tendons which extend and stabilise the wrist. Golfer’s elbow affects the tendons on the medial side of the elbow which are involved in flexing the wrist and fingers. It is less common than tennis elbow.

What are the symptoms of golfer’s elbow?

It typically cases pain and tenderness on the medial side of the elbow, where the common flexor origin is anchored to the medial epicondyle. This is the bony prominence you can feel on the inner side of your elbow. This pain is usually aggravated by activity, particularly gripping or lifting and often also by straightening out your elbow.

How do you diagnose golfer’s elbow

It is usually diagnosed clinically based on your symptoms and the examination. Your doctor may also request a scan in order to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out a larger tear in the tendon.

How do you treat golfer’s elbow?

Like tennis elbow, many cases will settle over a period of 6 to 12 months with rest and physiotherapy. If symptoms are severe or persistent, then further treatments include steroid injection, PRP injection, shockwave treatment (ESWT) and surgery. These are the same treatments used for tennis elbow, and are discussed in more detail in the articles on tennis elbow treatment and tennis elbow surgery. Surgery for golfer’s elbow (golfer’s elbow release) is similar to tennis elbow surgery except that the incision is on the medial side of the elbow. The scar can sometimes be a little sensitive initially because it is in the area where you tend to rest your arm.

Posted in Elbow Problems.