Golfer’s Elbow: A Most Vexing Complaint
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
It is hard to believe, but summer appears to be on the horizon, and what that means is that many of us are on the golf course and putting stresses on our bodies that they are not accustomed to. One of the problems that afflicts many golfers is what is known as “Golfer’s Elbow”. Golfer’s Elbow is a condition that occurs because of repetitive stress and strain of one of the tendons that attaches to your elbow. This repetitive stress causes inflammation (swelling) and pain at that attachment point.
As you can see in the illustration above, the muscles that flex the wrist attach to the inside bony prominence in the elbow. This bony prominence is known as the “medial epicondyle”. What occurs with this condition is that microscopic tearing will occur at the attachment point and that type of injury is then associated with chronic inflammation. The net effect is that a person will have difficulty curling their wrist up because it will place strain on the inflamed attachment point. Golfers are particularly prone to this condition because of the tendency of some players to flip the wrist when they are contacting the ball. If a person is capable of keeping the wrist “long” and not flipping it, then they will not likely develop this condition. As a side note, tennis elbow is a similar condition, but it affects people on the outside attachment bone, the one to which the wrist extensors attach.
Of course, if you have the luxury of just letting your arm rest, then that can be a solution to golfer’s elbow. However, the golf season is short in Minnesota and most of us want to take every advantage of the short season to get in as many rounds as possible.
Conservative treatment options would include such things as using a brace to take pressure off of the attachment point. Such braces are simply wrapped tightly just below the elbow and can be effective for both golfers and tennis elbow. Taping the elbow and surrounding tissues with products such as Kinesiotape or Rocktape can also provide significant support and allow the area to heal. Adjunctive therapies such as ultrasound and cold laser can also reduce inflammation and speed healing. Lastly, and also critical for assisting people with both tennis and golfers’ elbow is chiropractic adjusting to the wrist, hand, elbow, shoulder, and neck. The proper functioning of the arm is dependent upon all of its various joints, muscles, and nerves doing exactly what they are supposed to do. The doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness are trained to fully assess functional issues in the neck and upper extremity. We have had incredible results with golfer’s elbow.
Of course, you can take anti-inflammatory medication and get cortisone injections at the attachment points for these tendons, but doing so never actually resolves the fundamental issue that created the problem in the first place. If you need to use these more traditional methods to obtain relief, then do not forget to also identify the cause. Here’s wishing you a great golf season.
If you want to see what chiropractic care can do for you give us a call or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.