Golfer's Elbow

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Written by Dr James Tan

Contents

    What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

    Golfer’s elbow, called elbow medial epicondylitis in medical terms, is a painful condition where the muscles and tendons in the inside part of the elbow become damaged. Golfer’s elbow is a type of tendonitis in the tendons of the elbow that may become inflamed or torn with repetitive usage and strain. Sometimes, the pain is restricted to the elbow only while at other times, it may radiate towards the arm and wrist.

    Contrary to what the name suggests, not only golfers can suffer from this injury. Other people who use their arms, elbows, and related muscles in tough activities, that cause continuous strain to these muscles, can also suffer from this issue. In case you experience its common signs and symptoms, it is advisable to contact your healthcare clinic and get evaluated by a qualified doctor in Singapore, so appropriate treatment can be started without further worsening of the injury.

    golfer's elbow diagram

    Image Credit: Mayo Clinic

    Golfer's Elbow Symptoms

    Golfer’s elbow usually presents itself with the following signs and symptoms:

    • Pain and tenderness on the bony part of the inner aspect of the elbow which may, at times, radiate towards the forearm
    • Stiffness on the inner elbow
    • Pain in the elbow and forearm while moving the arm and making a fist
    • Bony bump on the elbow

    Causes of Golfer's Elbow

    Golfer’s elbow is caused in people who repeatedly use their forearm muscles in forceful tasks such as throwing, gripping, flexing of wrists, rotation of arms, and lifting heavy objects. When the common flexor tendons in the inner elbow experience repetitive stress, they can become inflamed and cause pain. If left untreated, it may lead to degeneration of these tendons. Some of the common golfer's elbow causes are discussed below:

    Golf: Probably the most common cause of this condition is playing golf. With the repeated strain and overwork of the forearm and swinging of a golf club, the tendons and muscles can get damaged.
    Sports: Other sports in which the forearm is used forcefully is another cause of the golfer’s elbow. Such sports include tennis, baseball, table tennis, badminton, bowling, etc.
    Weight Lifting: With the repetitive movements of lifting weights, the arm’s tendons and muscles can get overstretched and strained.
    Builders: Some professions where people have to apply force with their arms like carpenters, plumbers, construction workers, and mechanics are also prone to this condition.

    At Ray of Health, we also have tennis elbow specialists to treat and manage elbow pain.

    How is Golfer’s Elbow Diagnosed?

    When you have pain in your elbow, it is a good idea to get it checked by a specialised doctor. When you visit Dr James Tan, he will conduct a physical examination to diagnose the problem. He may ask you to place your arm on a table with the palm side up. You may then be asked to raise your hand by bending the wrist. You may feel pain in the inner aspect of the elbow while doing this movement. Depending on the diagnosis and other factors, Dr Tan will advise different forms of golfer’s elbow treatment.

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    Golfer’s Elbow Treatment in Singapore

    Golfer's elbow is a condition that may heal on its own with rest and some home remedies. However, in other cases, your doctor for golfer’s elbow in Singapore can suggest other forms of non-surgical and surgical treatment options.

    Looking for golfer's elbow treatment in Singapore? We are here to help! The specialised doctors at Ray of Health will create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific case. We also offer customised treatment plans for knee pain and ankle injury recovery.

    Why live in pain another day? Chat with us online, call +65 6235 8781, or message WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572. You can also talk to us by clicking the button below.

    Locations

    Camden Medical

    1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-06

    Singapore 248649

    Mount Alvernia Hospital

    820 Thomson Road

    Medical Centre D #05-60

    Singapore 574623

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    Golfer's Elbow Treatment With Dr James Tan

    Dr James Tan, our golfer's elbow specialist at Ray of Health, deals with various orthopaedic conditions of the body. He advises his patients to consult him in case of any pain or injury at the earliest so that the condition can be assessed and diagnosed properly.

    1. Registration: Firstly, register with Dr James' team and book an appointment here.
    2. First appointment: At the first appointment, Dr James Tan will carry out a thorough physical exam for your golfer's elbow, evaluate your medical history.
    3. Diagnosis: Typically, additional diagnostic tests are required to access the causes of the problems accurately. This usually comes in the form of MRI or X-ray scans.
    4. Personalised Treatment Plan: Dr James will then create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific condition and needs, which could include undergoing surgery, and recommend the necessary treatment modalities to you.
    5. Follow-up sessions: Dr James will schedule additional follow-up sessions to monitor the recovery process until you fully recover.

    Disclaimer: Treatment plans may differ for different patients. Please contact Dr James for more information.

    dr james tan

    Medisave & Insurance Shield Plan Approved

    If you are a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident of Singapore, some of our orthopaedic procedures can be claimed under Medisave. The claimable amount will vary based on the procedure's complexity.

    For other situations, please consult our friendly clinic staff regarding the use of your Integrated Shield Plan insurance.

    Non-Surgical Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

    The different forms of non-surgical treatment options comprise pain control and management, soft tissue therapy, and reconditioning of the affected muscles.

    • The first step of the non-surgical treatment for golfers elbow is to keep the pain under control through rest, icing, and painkiller medicines. Avoiding strenuous activities of the arm and hand which may cause further wear and tear of the tendons may aid in recovery.
    • Applying ice on the affected area several times a day can also help with the pain and swelling.
    • The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs like paracetamol, ibuprofen, and other stronger medicines to help with the pain. If you feel pain in your foot, this is a good option to treat heel pain as well.
    • Physical therapy for golfer's elbow: A physical therapist will show you stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles and tendons that are injured. Your physical therapist will recommend exercises for golfers elbow that can help manage your condition.
    • The next line of treatment typically involves soft tissue therapy and pain management through physiotherapy. Electrotherapy modalities like ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may also help relieve pain and promote healing.
    • Eccentric muscle training and stretching exercises are also advised for reversing the degenerative processes and to help the tendons and muscles recover from the injury.
    • Injections: Treatments with corticosteroids may be advised by your specialist doctor to help get rid of inflammation and pain if the other forms of therapy listed above haven’t been effective for you.

    In very rare circumstances, orthopaedic surgery can be required to repair the torn tendon. This is typically the very last resort after all of the other options have been exhausted.

    Surgical Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

    If your orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore feels that your injury is not responding to non-surgical intervention, he may advise surgical treatment. The golfers elbow surgery comprises the process of repairing the damaged tendon. In cases where the tendon has been damaged beyond the point of repair, the doctor may attempt to reconstruct the tendon.

    Surgery can be done either as an open surgery or an arthroscopic surgery. An arthroscopy is where the surgeon inserts a small camera and thin surgical instruments through tiny incisions on the elbow. Through the incisions, the surgeon can remove any damaged or inflamed tendon parts along with any debris that may be causing inflammation in the area. If possible, the orthopaedic surgeon may also try to repair the damaged tendon, otherwise, he will replace it with a healthy tendon from some other part of the body. Finally, the incisions are stitched up and you will be ready to go home the same day.

    The doctor may advise you to use a sling for your arm for some days to enable quick recovery along with some pain-killing medications. You may need to do some exercises and stretches for golfer's elbow for a few months after the surgery before you can resume your sports and high-level activities. For cartilage injury treatment, surgery is an option as well.

    When to See a Doctor?

    If you experience any pain and tenderness in your elbow and/or arm, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with Dr James Tan and get it evaluated. The problem may heal on its own in some cases when you do ice therapy and other home treatments, but it is always advisable to get it checked by a doctor. However, if you feel that you cannot bend your elbow, or your elbow feels hot and inflamed and/or is accompanied by fever, it may be an emergency. You should immediately seek emergency care to prevent the injury from aggravating further.

    Think that it could be an emergency? Here are a few signs that you need to urgently see someone:

    • Your elbow is burning and swollen
    • You can't bend your elbow
    • There’s a visible deformity
    • You think the bone may be broken

    If you feel any of the above symptoms in your shoulder, it could be a shoulder dislocation or a rotator cuff tear.

    How Long Does Golfer's Elbow Take to Heal?

    The time it takes for Golfer's elbow to heal depends on the severity of the injury, the activity level of the patient, and other individual factors. Generally speaking, a golfer’s elbow can take about 3 to 6 months to heal with non-surgical treatment options. Often, it may heal on its own without any pain medication or physiotherapy. However, if after 6 months, the condition has not healed, the doctor may consider surgery.

    Surgery is carried out as an outpatient procedure and there is typically no need for an overnight hospital stay. However, recovery time after surgery is also around 3 to 6 months which may include rest and inactivity for a few weeks followed by the gradual addition of physiotherapy, stretching exercising, and muscle training.

    Golfer's Elbow Exercises

    Try these effective exercises for pain relief.

    Golfer's Elbow Treatment With Dr James Tan

    Dr James Tan, our orthopaedic specialist at Ray of Health, Singapore deals with various orthopaedic conditions of the body. He advises patients to consult him in case of any pain or injury at the earliest so that the condition can be assessed and diagnosed properly.

    At the first appointment, Dr James Tan will carry out a thorough physical exam for your Golfer's elbow pain, evaluate your medical history, and order any additional diagnostic tests if required. He will then create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific condition and needs, and recommend the necessary treatment options. Contact him today for more information about Golfer's elbow treatment or any other orthopaedic condition.

    Frequently-Asked Questions About Golfer's Elbow in Singapore

    Sometimes golfer’s elbow presents itself with extreme pain and stiffness, causing you to immediately rush towards the doctor for diagnosis and treatment. At other times with a Golfer’s elbow, you may experience mild pain or stiffness symptoms while making certain movements like stretching the arm, gripping something, or making a fist. In such cases, you may feel that no intervention is required for its treatment. However, if left untreated, the condition may lead to permanent damage of the affected tendons, restricting your range of movement and causing permanent stiffness of the elbow and arm. Therefore, any pain in the elbow and arm should be taken seriously and effective treatment should be sought.

    Disclaimer

    The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult your healthcare provider or specialist doctor regarding any medical condition that you might be facing and act on the doctor’s recommendations.

    References:

    1. "Golfer's elbow: Learn More – The treatment options for golfer’s elbow", National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507001/
    2. "Medial epicondylitis - golfer's elbow", National Library of Medicine, 2023, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007638.htm
    3. "Golfer's Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)", Hospital for Special Surgery, https://www.hss.edu/condition-list_golfers-elbow.asp

    About The Author

    dr james tan

    Dr James Tan Chung Hui

    Dr James Tan is a skilled orthopaedic surgeon at Quantum Orthopaedics located at Camden Medical and Mount Alvernia Hospital, known for providing specialised medical services. Dr Tan has more than 10 years of experience in sports surgery and exercise medicine in Singapore. Apart from partnering with the industry to introduce various treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions.

    Dr Tan specialises in treating sports injuries of the knee, shoulder and elbow joints, as well as cartilage and meniscus surgery. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.

    Medical Education and Affiliations
    MBBS - National University of Singapore (NUS), Faculty of Medicine
    Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCS)
    MMed - Master of Medicine in Orthopaedic Surgery (NUS)
    Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh)
    Adjunct Assistant Professor | NUS, LKC
    Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports and Exercise Medicine
    Head of Department | Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Centre
    Awards
    Principal Investigator of Tissue Engineering
    National Medical Research Council grants
    Collaboration with Scientists at NTU, TUM, A*Star, Osteopore & Trendlines Medical Singapore

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    Accreditations

    1. Mount Elizabeth Orchard
    2. Mount Elizabeth Novena
    3. Farrer Park Hospital
    4. Mount Alvernia Hospital
    5. Aptus Surgery Centre
    6. Novaptus Surgery Centre

    Insurances

    1. Great Eastern
    2. Prudential
    3. HSBC Life

    Corporate

    1. MHC
    2. Fullerton
    3. Adept
    4. Alliance