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Golfer's Elbow


Disease: Golfer's Elbow Golfer's Elbow
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases
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Disease Definition:

When pain and inflammation occur on the inner side of the elbow where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow, it means that the person has a condition known as golfer's elbow, also called medial epicondylitis. The pain may spread into the wrist and forearm.


Golfer's elbow is similar to tennis elbow. The difference is that golfer's elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow rather than on the outside. This condition is not limited to golfers. People who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers can also develop golfer's elbow, such as tennis players.


Rest and appropriate treatment could help a person not to keep off the course or away from their favorite activities.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The signs and symptoms of golfer's elbow include:


  • Stiffness: the elbow could feel stiff, and making a fist could also hurt.
  • Weakness: a person may feel weakness in their wrists and hands
  • Pain and tenderness: a person may feel pain and tenderness on the inner side of their elbow, which could extend along the inner side of their forearm
  • Numbness or tingling: numbness and tingling is experienced in many cases of golfer's elbow, which radiates into one or more fingers, mostly the ring and little fingers.


The pain of golfer's elbow could occur either suddenly or gradually, which could get worse when a person:


  • Shakes hands
  • Squeezes or pitches a ball
  • Turns a doorknob
  • Swings a golf club or racket
  • Flexes his/her wrist toward the forearm
  • Picks up something with the palm down


Damage to the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers causes golfer's elbow. Usually, the damage is related to the excess or repetitive stress, particularly forceful finger and wrist motions. In some cases, a sudden force to the elbow or wrist may also cause golfer's elbow. Some of the activities that could lead to golfer's elbow include:


Racket sports:

A person’s elbow could hurt due to excessive topspin. Injury could be caused due to using a racket that is too small, heavy or tightly strung.


Throwing sports:

Yet another thing that could cause golfer's elbow is improper pitching technique in baseball or softball.



A person’s muscles and tendons could be damaged because of gripping or swinging the clubs incorrectly.


Other activities:

Golfer’s elbow could also be caused by raking, chopping wood, painting, typing, hammering and other repetitive wrist, hand or arm movements.



Persistent elbow pain could result in case golfer's elbow is left untreated.


The sooner the treatment is started, the sooner the person will be able to return to their usual activities. Some of the methods that are used in treating golfer's elbow include:



Until the pain subsides, the person shouldn't play golf or other repetitive activities. The condition may be worse if the person returns to the links too soon. 


Icing the affected area:

A person should apply ice packs to their elbow for several days, four times a day for about 15 to 20 minutes. They should wrap the ice packs in a thin towel in order to protect their skin. Massaging the inner elbow with ice for five minutes at a time, two to three times a day may also help.


Reducing the load on the elbow:

A person should use a forearm strap or wrap their elbow with an elastic bandage.


Stretching and strengthening the affected area:

Someone may be recommended specific stretching and strengthening exercises. Yet another thing that could be helpful is physical or occupational therapy.


Taking over-the-counter pain relievers:

A person could try acetylsalicylic acid, naproxen, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.


Considering other medications:

In order to reduce pain and swelling, someone may be recommended a cortisone injection in case over-the-counter pain relievers aren't effective.


Gradual return to their usual activities:

A person should practice arm motions of their sport or activity when they’re no longer in pain. They should review their tennis or golf swing with an instructor and if necessary, make adjustments.



Surgery is necessary only in some rare cases. It could be an option in case a person’s signs and symptoms don't respond to conservative treatment.


The pain could last several months, depending on the severity of the condition, even if the person takes it easy and follows instructions to exercise their arm. In some cases, the pain could return or become chronic. People should know the importance of rest during recovery, and if they use their arm before it is completely healed, their recovery could be prolonged.


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