Golfer's Elbow

Overview of Golfer's Elbow

Golfer’s elbow is a common injury that affects the inner side of elbow tendons due to external objects. The best treatable way is RICE technique.

Golfer's elbow is an injury of the elbow due to external objects that leads to pain inside of the elbow near the medial epicondylitis bone (named as funny bone).  Golfer’s elbow causes damage and irritation to tendons of the elbow attached to the muscles that go downwards to connect forearms with it. From there, the muscle attaches with another set of tendons, which further connects to the wrist and fingers. This helps the elbow for bending, twisting, and gripping objects like a golf club, tennis racket, or hammer.  The repetitive movements, forceful gripping or twisting of objects during activities may destroy the tendons at the elbow. Patients usually feel soreness or pain inside the elbow during or after continuous activity.
The main aim of treatment is to identify the exact cause and manage it through different techniques, depending on the severity of the injury. It is better to reduce the pain, inflammation or prevent recurrence of the condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Golfer's Elbow

The signs and symptoms of a golfer's elbow are based on how far the object hits on the elbow and what reaction a person feels after hitting. In common words, we can say the severity of the accident.


  • Pain and tenderness, a person feels inside of the elbow that spreads along the inner side of forearms. It will get worse after repetitive movements
  • Feeling stiffness in the elbow
  • Weakness in hands and wrist
  • Feeling numbness or tingling in one or more fingers, especially in rings and little fingers


Types of Golfer's Elbow

Causes of Golfer's Elbow

The main cause of the golfer's elbow is excessive use of the elbow repeatedly without any care. This results in the inflammation of tendons. If the affected elbow is not treated on time,  it causes the degeneration of tendons. Any repetitive movements may result in continuous disruption of tendons. Following people have undergone at high risk.

  • Tennis players with powerful forehands and lots of topspin activity
  • Javelin passers with a poor, low elbow technique make the inner side of the elbow weakened.
  • Baseball pitchers
  • Over usage of computer keyboards
  • Manual labor like Carpenter

This concludes that not only sports people, but any person who uses their elbows excessively may have golfer’s elbow injuries.


Risk Factors of Golfer's Elbow

Individuals who may have a chance of having a golfer’s elbow that includes:


  • Above the age of 40 years
  • Involving in sports activities, at least 2 hours/day
  • Being overweight
  • A tobacco smoker




There are different ways to prevent the golfer’s elbow to reduce the intensity of pain and stiffness.


  • Mild exercises or lifting light weights may have to strengthen the forearm muscles. This helps the muscles to absorb the energy due to mild pressure.
  • A person must do a walk or jog for a few minutes to warm up the muscles before the beginning of any sports activities.
  • Avoid overload on muscles that’s why trainers usually check the body posture whether it is right or not.
  • Usage of appropriate types of equipment for example, if the person is a tennis player, then needs to assure that the racket fits in their hands.
  • Lift the weights properly.
  • Take rest properly.




An orthopedic doctor/ sports specialist diagnoses the golfer's elbow based on the medical history and a physical examination. Secondly, they usually evaluate the pain and stiffness of the elbow by applying pressure on the damaged area and moving the elbow, wrist, and fingers in different directions.
A doctor may recommend an X-Ray or golfer’s therapeutic ultrasound to rule out other complications with the elbow pain such as a fracture or arthritis.  In rare cases, an MRI or CT scan is conducted to see the detailed scan of the affected area.

Treatment of Golfer's Elbow | When to Consult a Doctor

Every person’s body responds differently to different types of injuries. Therefore, the treatment also varies according to the effect on the damaged area. As such, there is no single cure for a golfer's elbow, so it is better to use different techniques for its treatment. An Orthopedic Surgeon may recommend:

  1. Medication

Over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics are used to decrease pain such as:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others)
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve)  
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

Corticosteroid injections are not effective for the long-term treatment of golfer’s elbow, so it’s better not to use it. More importantly, do not use any medications without doctor’s consultation.

  1. Initial Therapy

The best way to treat a golfer's elbow is through the RICE technique. Patients try to follow the below steps to manage the golfer’s elbow.

  • Rest: Stop moving the affected elbow’s tendon and do rest as much as the person can. It will help to heal the tendon from time to time.
  • Ice: By using ice packs on the damaged tendons of the elbow make lessen the swelling and inflammation. Do not use ice directly on the skin, but always make a bag of ice. Put the ice bag on the affected area for 20 minutes and repeat it every 24 to 48 hours.
  • Compression:  Compress the affected elbow’s tendons through the trainer's tape or bandage to reduce swelling.  Do not wrap it tightly because it can reduce the blood supply. A doctor recommends the counterforce brace on the affected arm that helps to reduce muscle or strain.
  • Strengthening the Elbow Muscles:  A doctor allows the patients to do different mild exercises for strengthening and stretching the elbow muscle. This is helpful to relieve the pain.

This RICE technique is applied for the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury; it keeps the person more comfortable and lessens the signs and symptoms.

If the external injury is chronic then a doctor may recommend the surgery to the patient. It is required to repair damaged or torn tendons or muscles of the elbow.

  1. Surgery

If the patients do not respond to conservative treatments for at least 6 to 12 months then surgery may be recommended. According to various studies, a new way of surgery has been introduced named as TENEX procedure.


This technique involves minimally invasive, ultrasound-guided elimination of scar tissue in the tendon pain region. But still more studies are going on.