Golfer's Elbow

Table of Contents

    What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

    Known by medical experts as medial epicondylitis, is a painful problem that impacts the inner part of your elbow. To be precise, when you have this condition, you will feel pain in your medial epicondyle (the bony lump that you can find in the bend of your arm).

    golfer's elbow diagram

    Image Credit: Mayo Clinic

    It is a common form of tendinitis, which means that you have irritation or inflammation in the tendon that connects your muscle to your bone.

    When you repeatedly strain the tendons and muscles of your forearm by gripping, twisting, or throwing, you may find yourself with this annoying but highly treatable medical condition.

    What Are The Symptoms of Golfer's Elbow?

    It can range in its severity and each case is slightly different. You might find that you have a few different symptoms including some or all following:

    Pain: You might experience anything from tenderness to sharp pain. While it may begin as mild discomfort, your pain is very likely to increase with time. It is especially common to experience a flareup in pain when you’re throwing something, twisting your arm, or trying to grab onto something.
    Stiffness: it’s common to feel a lack of mobility that makes it hard to bend and move your elbow. Here are some exercising you can do to improve mobility in your shoulder and elbow.
    Weakness: Losing strength in your wrist, which could also be a sign of wrist injury and foremost is a typical marker and that weakness can make it hard to grip or carry things.
    Pins and needles feeling: It is common to have a sense of numbness or tingling that runs up your arm and even down to your fingers.

    Causes of Golfer's Elbow

    It is a kind of pain that you may experience if you overuse or continuously strain your forearm muscles. Common causes include the following kinds of hobbies and jobs:

    Golf: Of course, swinging a golf club is one of the most common reasons why those tendons and muscles of your forearm become strained and overworked.
    Tennis: Also often referred to as Tennis Elbow. The regular and ongoing tension that you create in your forearm muscles during a game of tennis is a common cause.
    Sports: While golf and tennis are the most common causes, it is not unusual to see this condition in people who play baseball or bowling due to the repetitive movement required.
    Weight Lifting: With the repetitive movements required in many workouts, it often affects regular weightlifters.
    Builders: Carpenters, painters, plumbers, and other professionals who need to grip, twist, and throw materials regularly need to move their arms in such a way that increases their likelihood of getting this condition.
    Problematic workouts: Any sport or professional can increase your likelihood of this condition and also muscle cramps when you don't warm up or when you have bad form during the movements.


    At Ray of Health, we also offer comprehensive treatment for tennis elbow.

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    Golfer’s Elbow Treatment in Singapore

    Are you dealing with pain in your elbow? Whether you hit the golf course every weekend or have never played a game in your life, you may be suffering from what we call golfer's elbow. Despite what you may think, golfer's elbow pain isn’t an issue that is exclusive to golfers! On the contrary, it can affect anyone and, without treatment, it will get worse with time.

    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 arthritis and ankle injury recovery.

    Why live in pain another day? Chat with us online, email, call +65 6235 8781, or message WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572.

    When to See a Doctor?

    If rest, ice therapy, and over-the-counter medication don't help with your pain and tenderness, it is time to book a doctor’s appointment.

    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 average healing time of golfer's elbow depends on both the severity of the condition as well as how effectively the treatment is managed. Minor cases that are ignored for too long can become long-term uncontrolled issues. On the other side of things, more severe cases can be quickly and effectively managed if you see a healthcare professional early on and diligently follow the treatment plan.

    Treatments range from physical therapy to anti-inflammatory drugs to the simple rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) method. In most cases, these treatments can successfully treat the inflammation within a few weeks to a few months. Again, in this case, your exact time will depend on the severity as well as your overall health.

    In more severe cases, your doctor might recommend additional treatments like corticosteroid injections or elbow surgery. Both of these treatment options will increase your healing time to up to six months.

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    Golfer's Elbow Exercises

    Try these effective exercises for quick relief.

    Frequently-Asked Questions About Golfer's Elbow in Singapore

    Will Golfer’s Elbow Ever Go Away?

    Though the symptoms can be pretty intense and incredibly persistent, it is an issue that is highly treatable and can usually be resolved completely. As soon as you start treatment, you will see noticeable improvements in the amount of pain and your general mobility.

    The key to successful treatment comes down to following your doctor’s exact recommendations. Too often we hear from people who have ignored the symptoms and avoided getting an official diagnosis. While that is completely understandable --- after all, who wants to go on a trip to the doctor’s office if they don’t need it? --- it only delays your recovery and causes you to live with the pain even longer.

    When caught early in its onset, you may need nothing more than a couple of days of rest and regular ice treatments. The longer that you have a golfer's elbow, however, the more severe your issue will become. In these more advanced cases, you may need physical therapy and medication. In the most severe of cases, you may need surgery to treat golfer's elbow.

    While the severity of injury varies in any case, following a treatment plan will make a dramatic difference to your condition, if not eliminate it. 

    It's vital to keep in mind that while appropriate treatment may resolve or help with the symptoms, the underlying cause will remain in many cases. Whether it is your favourite sport or the demands of your profession, it can come back again if you continue with the same activities. It is important to talk with your doctor about the options for prevention of other sports related injuries and management. A physical therapist can help you devise a workout plan and possible lifestyle changes to prevent the issue from popping up again.

    Should I Massage Golfer’s Elbow?

    Massaging your arm can help give you some relief and speed up recovery. It is crucial to note, however, that while massage can be helpful, it can’t take the place of appropriate medical care. There is also a risk of worsening the problem if the massage is not done properly.

    If you’re in pain, you need to see a doctor for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. While you can start with resting and icing it, it is important to see a doctor if you are in pain for more than a week or if you are suffering from chronic or severe discomfort.

    Should I Stretch Golfer’s Elbow?

    While stretching can help with certain types of conditions, it’s not great for this condition, especially in the early stages.

    When you stretch your wrist flexor muscles, which are connected to the medial epicondyle of the elbow (the area that is hurting right now), you can make the problem worse.

    Instead of stretching, reach for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling and pain. Most importantly, rest your arm.

    After getting the diagnosis and starting with a treatment plan, your doctor might advise certain exercises or physical elbow treatments to strengthen your muscles and boost your flexibility.

    As always, it is important to start with an initial doctor’s visit. If you just guess your way around at home, you can make the problem worse.

    What Exercises Should I Avoid?

    When you have this condition, it is critical to avoid certain movements. When you create tension in your forearm muscles and tendons, you risk worsening the pain and swelling. Here are a few types of movements and exercises that you will want to avoid:

    • Heavy Lifting: Avoid lifting anything, especially with a pronated grip (which means having your palms facing down).
    • Forearm Workouts: Exercises like pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, and pull-downs are especially hard on your forearms so avoid them when you’re dealing with pain.
    • Curl Arm Workouts: Workouts that require you to bend your elbow while holding a weight can make the swelling worse. This includes biceps curls and hammer curls as they both put too much stress on your already inflamed tendons.

    About the Author

    Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

    Dr James Tan C H

    Dr James Tan is a highly skilled surgeon who has more than 10 years of experience in sports surgery and exercise medicine. Apart from partnering 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.