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Taking a Swing at Golfer's Elbow

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For those of us who are sports enthusiasts, whether for recreational purposes only or for the pure competition in it, regular participation in our favored activities can lead to certain injuries. As for myself, I have endured aching muscles from years in tennis, sore feet from thousands of miles run in races, and I have even gone under the knife for injuries sustained in my exciting, yet short-lived, kick-boxing endeavors! I did take up the game of golf once, but I never could quite get the hang of it…or, shall I say, swing of it! Needless to say, with all of the beautiful golf courses across the world, there are thousands of golfers out there who cannot seem to get enough of the game. For some of those folks, a nagging condition called Golfer’s Elbow may temporarily pull them off the course and into the club house.

In short, Golfer’s Elbow is pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow. This is where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. The pain can spread into the forearm and into the wrist.

Also known as medial epicondylitis, Golfer’s Elbow is similar to tennis elbow, but it occurs on the inside instead of on the outside of the elbow. Those who are in sports that require repeated use of the wrist or clenching of the fingers are susceptible to this condition.

Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow include pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow. This pain can extend along the inside of the forearm. The elbow may feel stiff, and the simple act of making a fist can hurt. There may be weakness in the hands and in the wrists. Sometimes numbness or tingling may radiate into the fingers, such as the ring finger and the little finger. Simple acts such as shaking hands, turning a doorknob, or picking up something with the palm turned down may cause pain.

The damage to the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and forearm is usually related to excess or repetitive stress. The forceful wrist and finger motions associated with a golf swing are examples of the types of motions that can create this condition. While most common in men ages 20 to 49, it can affect anyone who repetitively stresses the wrist and fingers.

If ice and over-the-counter pain relievers do not ease the pain and tenderness in the elbow, it is time to see a doctor. A doctor should be seen immediately if the elbow is hot and inflamed and a fever is present. If the elbow cannot be bent or looks deformed, a doctor should evaluate it right away. An x-ray can help the doctor to rule out any other possible causes of the pain, such as arthritis or a fracture. The sooner treatment is sought, the sooner you can get back in the game.

Be sure to rest the affected arm and put the repetitive activities on the back burner until the pain is gone. If you try to return to the game too soon, it could get worse. Apply ice packs to the elbow for 15 to 20 minutes four times each day for several days. Be sure to wrap the packs in a towel to protect your skin. Stretching exercises may help, as well. Talk to your doctor about this for specific exercises tailored just for you. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with the pain and inflammation. Gradually, as you feel ready, ease back into your activities. It could quite possible take several months for the pain to dissipate, so be patient. Perhaps now would be a good time to find another activity that will not involve the repetitive use of your elbow. However, if you want to save your knees, avoid kick-boxing! Or at least don’t be as competitive at it as I was! I think if I were to take up golf, I would merely volunteer to drive the golf cart around!

(Information for this article was found at http://www,mayoclinic.com/health/golfers-elbow/DS00713)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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