There are vastly different types of joints in the human body. The elbow is a complex join, having multiple small joints within its structure. The elbow is a hinge – type joint. We will go through the anatomy of the elbow, and a common affliction of this rather complex joint, golfer's elbow.
What is the Elbow Joint?
It is a hinged joint because it has two separate anatomical attachments.
- The trochlear notch of the ulna (forearm bone) and trochlea of the humerus (arm bone)
- Head of the radius (forearm bone) and capitulum of the humerus (arm bone)
What is Golfer's Elbow?
It is a condition of the elbow that causes pain over the medial epicondyle of the humerus bone where the muscles of the forearm attach. People or athletes who use their wrists or fingers repetitively also can develop golfer's elbow. The reason this condition is called golfer's elbow is its common diagnosis seen in golf players.
What are the causes of Golfer's Elbow?
Golfer's elbow is also known as medial epicondylitis, is caused by damage to the muscles and tendon that controls your wrist and fingers. Damage is related to excess or repeated stress, repetitive movements especially forceful wrist and finger movements.
Improper lifting, throwing, hitting, too little warm-up & cool-down, poor conditioning can all lead to golfer's elbow. In racket sports, the use of topspin or equipment ill-matched to its player, too small or heavy, can lead to this type of elbow injury. Throwing sports, such as pitching in baseball or softball, archery, football or javelin throwing can also cause golfer's elbow. Inappropriate techniques applied during weight training, people who work in construction, plumbing, and carpentry can stimulate these tissues.
What are the signs and symptoms of Golfer's Elbow?
The person usually feels pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow; the pain sometimes extends down into the inner forearm. If appropriate treatment is not sought, pain typically gets worse.
Due to the inflammation of the common flexor muscles and tendons, the person will often feel varying degrees of stiffness. Weakness and reduced strength can also occur because of this inflammation, tenderness and pain.
Sometimes inflammation becomes chronic that it can cause compression of the nerve supplying the ring and little fingers. People with golfer's elbow can also feel tingling and numbness.
How to prevent Golfer's Elbow?
If a person takes proper precautions, there is a good chance of preventing or reducing the possibility of golfer's elbow.
- Avoid repetitive movements of wrists and fingers
- Warm-up and cool-down before playing sports
- Avoid repetitive strokes while playing tennis
- Avoid lifting heavyweights
- Use elbow brace to support elbow during sports and work-related activities.
- Get plenty of rest
- Visit your family doctor and physiotherapist before the condition gets worst
- Proper lifting techniques
- Use of appropriate equipment at work to prevent injury to the elbow.
What is the treatment for Golfer's Elbow?
Physiotherapy is effective in short and long term management of the golfer's elbow. The physiotherapist aims to achieve the following.
- Reduction of elbow pain
- Facilitation of tissue repair
- Restore normal joint range of motion
- Restore the strength of the muscles and function
- Restore normal muscle length and movement patterns
To achieve the above-mentioned goals, the following physiotherapy treatments are beneficial,
- Electrotherapy – Ultrasound, TENS
- Gentle mobilization of neck and elbow joints
- Protective strapping
- Muscle stretch
- Muscle strength
- Soft tissue release
- Elbow brace
If appropriate diagnosis and treatment are in place for your golfer’s elbow, the prognosis is much better.