Your elbow is a hinged joint made up of 3 bones: your upper arm bone (humerus) and the two bones in your forearm (ulna and radius). Muscles, ligaments, and tendons hold the elbow joint together, to form the joint capsule- a fluid filled sac that surrounds and lubricates the joint.
The muscles in your forearm cross the elbow and attach to the humerus. The bony bump on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow is called the lateral epicondyle, while the bump on the inside of your arm is called the medial epicondyle.
The important ligaments of the elbow consist of the medial collateral ligament (on the inside of the elbow) and the lateral collateral ligament (on the outside of the elbow). These ligaments work together to stabilise the elbow, holding the humerus, radius and ulna tightly together. Another ligament called the annular ligament holds the radial head tightly against the ulna.
The tendons in your elbow attach muscle to bone. The biceps tendon attaches the biceps muscle on the front of your arm, and the triceps tendon attaches the triceps muscle to the back of your arm.
The arm consists of nerves that travel down and move across the elbow. There are three main nerves: the radial nerve, the ulnar nerve and the medial nerve. These nerves are responsible for controlling your muscles and sensations, such as touch, pain and temperature.
WHAT IS A GOLFER’S ELBOW?
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that causes pain to the bony bump (medial epicondyle) on the inside of the elbow. This is due to the swelling of one of the flexor tendons that join the forearm muscles to that bony bump. Golfer’s elbow is very similar to tennis elbow, which occurs on the outside of the elbow.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A GOLFER’S ELBOW?
The primary symptom of golfer’s elbow is pain and tenderness to the inside of the elbow where the bony bump is located. Other symptoms include:
- Weakened grip and wrist
- Pain and a tingling sensation that spreads down your arm, from the elbow to your pinky finger
- Pain with movement of the hand and wrist
- Worsening pain when lifting a heavy object with your palm facing up
- Stiffness in the elbow that makes it hard to move it
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS OF A GOLFER’S ELBOW?
Common causes of a golfer’s elbow are:
- Overuse of flexor muscles in the forearm
- Direct impact to the elbow, such as in a sports injury or fall
- Activities that involve repetitive twisting and bending motion of the wrist- occupations such as plumbers, cooks, butchers, and sports such as tennis and golf
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS OF A GOLFER’S ELBOW?
A history of the injury and a physical examination of the elbow will be conducted by the Doctor.
Imaging tests will be taken, such as an x-ray to eliminate other conditions.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR A GOLFER’S ELBOW?
Treatment will begin with nonsurgical treatments, such as:
- Applying ice or cold compress to the elbow and inner part of the forearm to reduce swelling and pain
- Using a brace for elbow support
- Medication for pain relief and to reduce inflammation
- Strengthening exercises
Should nonsurgical treatments fail to alleviate your symptoms, surgery may be recommended to remove the damaged tissue.
HOW CAN WE PREVENT A GOLFER’S ELBOW FROM HAPPENING?
There are a few steps that we can take to reduce our risks of getting a golfer’s elbow. These include:
- Doing strengthening exercises
- Doing the appropriate stretches before starting any physical activity
- Using the proper form during sporting activities should it be required, such as during golf