Golfer's Elbow

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Medically reviewed by Dr. James Tan

Table of Contents

    What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

    Golfer’s elbow, called 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. These tendons of the forearm muscles connect with the bony lump on the inner part of the elbow. When these tendons get injured, they cause inflammation and swelling in the muscles of the region. 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, elbow, and related muscles in tough activities that cause continuous strain to these muscles can also suffer from this issue. Golfer’s elbow is a painful injury that can worsen if left untreated. 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

    What Are The Symptoms of Golfer's Elbow?

    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

    Causes of Golfer's Elbow

    Golfer’s elbow is caused in people who repeatedly use their forearm muscles in such forceful tasks like 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, degeneration of these tendons can take place. Some of the causes of this injury are discussed below:

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

    At Ray of Health, we 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 from a specialized doctor. The doctor may conduct a physical examination to diagnose the problem. The doctor 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. If you have golfer’s elbow, you will feel pain in the inner aspect of the elbow while doing this movement. Depending on the diagnosis and other factors, the doctor will advise different forms of golfer’s elbow treatment.

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    Golfer’s Elbow Treatment in Singapore

    In many cases of golfer's elbow, the injury heals on its own with rest and some home remedies. When the elbow joint muscles and tendons are given a break from strenuous activities, it gives them time to heal and recover. 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 the best golfer's elbow treatment in Singapore? We are here to help! The experts at Ray of Health will create a treatment plan that will make your elbow feel better in no time. 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.

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    Locations

    Camden Medical

    1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-06

    Singapore 248649

    Mount Alvernia Hospital

    820 Thomson Road

    Medical Centre D #05-60

    Singapore 574623

    Non-Surgical Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

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

    • The first step of the non-surgical treatment is to keep the pain under control through rest, icing, and pain killer medicines. Avoiding strenuous activities of the arm and hand which may cause further wear and tear of the tendons can aid in recovery. Applying ice on the affected area several times a day can also help with the pain and swelling. Moreover, 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.
    • The doctor may prescribe cortisone injections for pain management.
    • The next line of treatment involves soft tissue therapy and pain management through physiotherapy. Electrotherapy modalities like ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are also helpful for relieving pain and aiding 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.

    Surgical Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

    If your orthopedic surgeon in Singapore feels that your injury is not responding to non-surgical intervention, he may advise surgical treatment. The surgery for golfer’s elbow in Singapore 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.

    The surgery for golfer’s elbow may be an open surgery or an arthroscopy where a small camera and thin surgical instruments are inserted through tiny incisions on the elbow. Through the incisions, the doctor will remove any damaged or inflamed tendon part along with any debris that may be causing inflammation in the area. If possible, the doctor will 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 physical therapy for a few months after the surgery before you can fully 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 visit a healthcare clinic and get it checked by a specialized doctor. The problem may heal on its own in some cases, when you do ice therapy, 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 with fever, it may be an emergency. You should immediately see your doctor 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

    In this case, the above symptoms are shown on your shoulders, it could be a shoulder dislocation or rotator cuff tear.

    What Is the Best Treatment for Golfer's Elbow?

    It is important to start with treatments as soon as you notice any symptoms. From at-home treatments to physical therapy to surgery, there is a solution for every case.

    Let’s look at the best home treatment, and consider at what point you should get to the doctor for testing and diagnosis.

    • Rest: This is your first step. Laying off your injured arm and avoiding activities that cause pain are two of the most crucial things you can do. You need to get the injured tendon time to recover and this is something that you absolutely can’t delay or avoid.
    • Ice: Applying ice will help to reduce your discomfort as well as the swelling that is causing pain. During the first couple of days, several times each every few hours, apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
    • Compression: Putting a brace or compression band across your forearm can help ease the pain and provide support to affected muscles and tendons. While you can buy bands and braces over the counter, it is important to have your doctor recommend the right option for you.
    • Medication: Over-the-counter painkillers like naproxen or ibuprofen will help relieve inflammation and discomfort.
    • Physical therapy: A physical therapist will show you stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles and tendons that are injured. Working with a healthcare professional will also connect you with treatment methods like dry needling, massage, or ultrasounds to boost your results.
    • Injections: Treatments with corticosteroids may be advised by your doctor to help get rid of inflammation and pain if the other forms of therapy listed above haven’t been ineffective for you.
    • Surgery: In very rare circumstances, orthopaedic surgery can be required to repair the torn tendon. This is always the very last resort after all of the other options have been exhausted.

    If you think you could have this condition, it is crucial to visit an elbow specialist as soon as possible. The prompt treatment makes a world of difference and will prevent the pain from getting worse.

    How Long Does It Takes to Heal?

    The time it takes for a golfer’s elbow to heal depends on the severity of the injury, the activity level of the patient, and other individual factors. On a general scale, 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 for golfer’s elbow is carried out as an outpatient procedure and there is no need for any overnight hospital stay. However, recovery time for golfer’s elbow after surgery is also around 3 to 6 months which may include rest and inactivity for a few weeks followed by gradual addition of physiotherapy, stretching exercising, and muscle training.

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    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, if you have golfer’s elbow, you may experience mild symptoms like pain and stiffness of the elbow 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 can cause permanent damage to 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.

    About the Author

    Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

    Dr James Tan C H

    Dr James Tan is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore who has more than 10 years of experience in sports injury surgery and exercise medicine. Apart from partnering with the industry to pioneer advanced and proven treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.