It’s that time of year again when the links are heating up… and so are complaints of body pain. Because golf is one of the few outdoor recreational activities that small groups can participate in during times of Covid-19 and social distancing, some folks are grabbing clubs for the first time. Golfing engages the entire body and, especially after a long winter and time away, will work muscle groups that we might not have used in some time. For such a seemingly low impact sport, it is associated with a number of injuries. Complaints of pain in the lower back, shoulders, elbows, or wrists/hands are common.
What is Golfer’s Elbow?
Many recreational golfers may experience pain on the inside of their elbows after picking up the clubs. This pain is commonly referred to as a “golfer’s elbow.” This condition can be very painful and may even cause some to give up the game. This condition usually presents with tenderness on the inside of the elbow and can be exacerbated with resisted wrist motion in the direction of the palm. It occurs when the muscles that bend the wrist become inflamed or irritated at their origin located at the inside of the elbow. Generally, this inflammation occurs with repeated, resisted forward motion of the wrist, like swinging a golf club.
Is this condition treatable?
Yes! A doctor can diagnose this condition with a simple exam. Treatment can include anti-inflammatory interventions like ice and NSAIDS, cortisone injections, splinting, and certainly physical therapy. It is important to restore the normal balance between the muscles that bend the wrist forward and those that bend it back, while preventing further inflammation. An Axes Physical Therapist may prescribe stretching exercises, create a custom splint or brace, low level strengthening, and pain relieving techniques. Learn more about sports therapy.
How long does it take to recover?
Recovery from golfer’s elbow may be quick for some, but not for others. Ignoring the warning signs can worsen the condition, which could necessitate surgical intervention to remove the damaged parts of the tendon. With conservative treatment and physical therapy, the condition usually resolves within three months. Post-surgical recovery can be much longer, averaging between three and six months to resolve.
How can I prevent golfer’s elbow?
Prevent golfer’s elbow and other such forearm related injuries by strengthening your muscles, stretching, and maintaining proper form. Even using light weights can help prepare your body for the energy of activity related physical stress. Always make sure to use the appropriate equipment, considering lighter graphite clubs if budget friendly.
It is important to respect your pain and not “play through it”. Your body is speaking to your through its discomfort… LISTEN! If you address your symptoms early, the sooner your will be playing pain free, with the birdies chirping in your ear.
About the Author: Chantell Y. Unnerstall, OTR/L, CHT graduated locally from Borgia High then completed her education at St. Louis University where she received her Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy. To schedule an appointment with Chantell, request an appointment online today.