How to Treat Tennis/Golfer’s Elbow
Tendonitis in the elbow is often associated with golf and tennis because the motions used to play both sports place stress on the tendons of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow refers to inflammation of the tendons that attach to the inner or medial part of the elbow. Tennis elbow refers to inflammation of the tendons that attach to the outside or lateral part of the elbow.
Golfer’s elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, is the most common injury among golfers. It is caused by performing the same motion again and again. As tendons of the elbow are repeatedly stressed and overused, inflammation can result in pain and tenderness at the attachment site. A similar situation can also occur in tennis players.
At Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine we commonly treat patients with this condition. Often times a course of rest followed by a gradual rehabilitating exercise program that our physical therapy team can guide you through is all that is needed to resolve the problem. Eventual strengthening exercises will enhance and strengthen the tendon insertion and forearm muscles.
Are You Experiencing Symptoms?
Tennis/golfer’s elbow doesn’t just develop in athletes of these sports. There are several professions that require the same tendons to be used over and over again. These include mechanics, painters, plumbers, carpenters, and cooks. If you’re experiencing pain near the elbow joint, even though you neither golf or play tennis, perhaps you should have it evaluated.
Symptoms often start out as mild intermittent pain, and progressively worsen over time. Patients often feel pain or a burning sensation or deep aching with grasping and lifting and even notice weak grip strength over time. Symptoms are especially felt when holding a racquet, gripping a golf club, shaking hands, pouring from a pitcher or turning a wrench.
Receiving the Treatment You Need
The first step in treatment is confirming the diagnosis. Through a series of questions we’ll evaluate several risk factors, including your occupation and participation in sports. You’ll also be asked about how your symptoms developed. An orthopaedic specialist from within our Joint Center will examine your arm with arm and hand exercises to assess the condition of your tendons and forearm muscles. As part of your evaluation, we may recommend an X-ray to check for arthritis of the elbow and several other conditions.
If tennis/golfer’s elbow is the cause of your symptoms, the most important part of treatment is rest. The condition cannot heal without rest. Once the pain and inflammation have decreased then a retraining program is begun using several exercises that can assist in healing, such as squeezing a tennis ball and wrist curls. A member of our physical therapy team can demonstrate and lead you through these exercises to get you back on track.
Anti-inflammatory medicine and a brace may also be part of treatment. If symptoms don’t improve or recur, surgery may be considered to successfully resolve the condition, but we do everything we can to avoid surgery.
If you think you’re suffering from tennis/golfer’s elbow, don’t wait another day to see if the pain will go away on its own. Contact us at 904-825-0540.
SINA KASRAEIAN, MD
Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and has extensive training in arthroscopy and sports medicine reconstructive procedures.