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What is Golfer's Elbow? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Golfer’s elbow, much like tennis elbow, is a condition that affects the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bump on the inside of your elbow (medial epicondyle). Whilst they go by different names, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow injuries are both the result of repetitive wrist motion and the clenching of fingers.


For anyone that has experienced golfer’s elbow, you’ll know just how frustrating the condition can be. Like most tendon injuries, the condition can continue to cause problems for weeks or months with no definite timeframe on recovery.


Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment options available is the first step towards getting back on the course sooner. In this article, we’ll take a look at the early signs of golfer’s elbow, what you can do to prevent the condition, and the treatment options available to those affected.

Table of Contents

  • What is golfer's elbow?

  • How is golfer’s elbow caused?

  • Common symptoms of golfer’s elbow

  • Golfer's elbow treatment options

What is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis as it is medically known, refers to an aching or painful sensation in the inner part of the elbow. This pain is a result of an overuse of the muscles in the forearm that leads to tearing and swelling and can often radiate from further from the elbow toward to wrist. 

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?

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The main cause of golfer’s elbow is usually due to a repeated, high level of tension in the forearm muscles and tendons, which is often applied as part of an incorrect golfing swing technique or other type of activity that places stress on the forearm. 

Other sports that can potentially cause golfer’s elbow are:

  • Baseball - Pitching baseballs make use of the same group of forearm muscles and this repetitive stress can cause golfer’s elbow to develop.

  • Badminton - The significant wrist movements and strength required in badminton can sometimes place too much stress on the forearm, leading to the same pain in the inner elbow.

  • Rock Climbing - Repeated grips and pulls on holds can develop golfer's elbow over time due to the strain on the forearm tendons.

  • Bowling -  The repetitive motion of releasing the ball incorrectly or using too heavy a ball can also contribute to the development of golfer's elbow.

Common Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow is often confused for tennis elbow due to similarities in symptoms around affected areas. These two conditions are different — the best way to tell is based on the location of the pain. 

If the pain is most intense around the outside of the elbow, the condition is most likely tennis elbow. Conversely, if the pain is felt on the inside of the elbow, it is a sign of golfer’s elbow. 

Other common symptoms of golfer’s elbow include: 

  • Stiffness in the elbow joint

  • Weakness in the hands or wrists

  • Numbness or tingling down the forearm

  • Difficulty in gripping or holding objects

  • Increasing pain when flexing the wrist toward the forearm

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Golfer's Elbow Treatment Options

Treating golfer’s elbow effectively starts with getting the right diagnosis, as the condition can often be confused with other injuries. The best way to successfully treat musculoskeletal issues like golfer’s elbow is with an expert physiotherapist. From there, treatment will involve:

Manual Therapy & Strengthening Exercises

Manual therapy applied by a qualified physiotherapist can help to release forearm muscle tension and promote recovery. Using hands-on techniques to guide your arm motions and gentle massaging, physiotherapists can help you improve your wrist and elbow mobility and restore strength.  

They will also prescribe a personalised set of exercises that you can perform at home — doing these in tandem with manual therapy appointments will help to speed up your recovery from golfer’s elbow. 

Reducing Movement

Placing a splint at your wrist or wrapping it in bandages can help to restrict the amount of movement in your forearm, reducing the occurrence of sudden pain. Be careful not to wrap the affected area too tightly as doing so may cut off blood flow from the rest of your arm. While this may not help relieve the pain immediately, it can prevent golfer’s elbow from worsening. 

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Heat or Cold Therapy

If you need immediate relief from golfer's elbow, there two ways you can reduce the amount of pain and swelling. Applying ice or cold packs to the painful area can provide temporary relief and reduce swelling, while applying warm heat packs to the elbow and forearm and soothe muscle tension. This option is more of a quick fix and instead of a permanent solution for golfer’s elbow, and we recommend booking an appointment at a physiotherapy clinic to get proper treatment. 

Get Effective Treatment for Golfer’s Elbow with Infinite Health

Golfer’s elbow pain can become a distracting and even dangerous source of discomfort, especially in daily activities like driving. If left untreated, golfer’s elbow can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. The process of healing must be done intentionally, as the body cannot repair the damage without sufficient rest and support. 

To help you get back to your full strength sooner, our physiotherapists at Infinite Health can provide specialised golfer’s elbow treatment as part of our sports physiotherapy services. Contact us today to book an appointment, so you can get back on the course!


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