Golfer’s elbow or medically known as medial epicondylitis is the inflation of the medial epicondyle located in the anterior portion of the elbow. It is similar to tennis elbow only that the later involves inflammation on the outer portion of the elbow.
Golfer’s elbow can lead to significant pain and reduction in the function of the forearm. When the medical epicondyle is affected, the muscles that are responsible for the flexion of the fingers and moving the wrist may also be affected leading to difficulty in grasping and other wrist and hand movements.
Golfer’s elbow symptoms may last for weeks even before the affected individual gets medical consult. The pain in the inner portion of the elbow becomes more intense when the wrists are flexed or pronated making the person lose some of its ability to employ activities of daily living. This simple symptom would then require for the immediate management of the condition to promote optimum level of functioning. In this line, it is essential to know the managements in dealing with golfer’s elbow.
Most of the initial treatments for Golfer’s elbow include the symptomatic relief of the condition such as:
Rest is the first management that can be employed to prevent further damage. Activities employing the swinging of the hands such as in golf, baseball and pitching should be stopped immediately to prevent further strain on the swollen epicondyle.
- Use of painkillers
Painkillers are often given to affected individuals to relieve pain and inflammation fast and limit disability. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen may be given for pain.
- Application of ice or heat
During the acute phase of injury, the structures on the inner side of the elbow have the tendency to swell more. Application of ice is needed to reduce swelling and to limit the pain that one has to experience. Cold temperature constricts the blood vessels to avoid intense swelling and it also numbs the affected nerves to reduce pain. After 48 hours, heat may be applied to allow the soft structures to relax and relieve pain.
- Use of an elbow strap
Immobilizing the elbow joint is also needed to prevent further injury and strain to the medial epicondyle. The elbow strap may be used for as long as there is pain; otherwise, employing range of motion activities is needed to resume the motion of the elbow joint, wrist and fingers. The elbow strap should be used with the elbow joint in a 30 to 45 degree angle to prevent contracture deformities.
- Use of elbow pads
Patients can also use elbow pads to relieve further strain on the nerves.
- Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is also started especially for those with severe Golfer’s elbow to allow the affected areas to cope with activities.
When all of these measures do not relieve pain, injection of steroids and anesthetics may be used to immediately provide relief. During the recovery, exercises involving the elbow joint should be started to improve the flexibility of the soft structures to prevent future injuries involving the medial epicondyle.