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What is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer’s Elbow (medically referred to as Medial Epicondylitis) is a condition that can be best explained as a repetitive strain injury of the elbow. This is an injury which occurs as a result of repeated stress on the tendons in the elbow joint where they attach to the bone. It is so named as, as you might suspect, because it is frequently suffered by golfers.

It is very easy to underestimate the force that swinging a club will have on the tendons in the elbow. A golf club will travel over 100mph during the swing. In the case of baseball players the same condition is known as Pitcher’s Elbow, because the throwing action involved in that sport has exactly the same effect.

So what exactly is Golfer’s Elbow? In this condition the tendons in the elbow area become inflamed which causes localised pain. The very act of gripping the club and the pressure of keeping the grip and then flexing the joint to make the swing is what causes this problem. The tendons that suffer damage with this condition are called the anterior and ulnar collateral ligaments.

When playing golf two of the main contributing factors to developing Golfer’s Elbow are brute force, when the player simply hits the ball too hard and perhaps the most obvious reason: poor form. Both these factors apply particularly to novice players who are just learning to play golf. The urge to hit the ball as hard as possible to impress others is tempting and there is a tendency for strains to occur when the forearm is not used to performing such movements.

Golfer’s Elbow shows similar symptoms to another more commonly known condition known as Tennis Elbow, (or lateral epicondylitis) but there is a key difference between the two. The stress that tennis causes to the joints affects the outer elbow and forearm muscles, while the game of golf will cause the stress in the inner elbow and forearm muscles. This is because the hand’s grip on a tennis racket is different to the grip on a golf club.

If you are suffering from frequently occurring elbow pain, remember that you don’t necessarily have to have played Golf in order to suffer from Golfer’s Elbow. Other physical activities are capable of placing stress on the same tendons. To obtain an accurate diagnosis you should make an appointment to see your GP or a physiotherapist. Use our Find a Practitioner application to locate your nearest physiotherapist.

Read - Treatment for Golfers Elbow

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