'Golfer's Elbow' not limited to golfers


If you're an avid golfer, you've probably spent significant time on the greens by this time of year. You may also be dealing with a nagging case of "golfer's elbow."

Golfer's elbow is tendonitis on the inside of the elbow where the tendons attach to the bony part of the joint. It's similar to tennis elbow, but on the opposite side of the arm.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain on the inside of the elbow or along the inner side of the forearm
  • Weakness in the hands and wrists
  • Stiff feeling elbow joint
  • Numb or tingling sensations that run from the elbow to finger tips

Golfers tend to run into elbow issues when they're unable to get a clean hit out of sand or deep grass.

"Sometimes the club comes to a stop, which puts a huge amount of force on that tendon origin," said Dr. Peter Evans, an elbow surgeon at Cleveland Clinic. "Doing this repetitively, of course, can tear some fibers when you have a sudden hit."

Typically, right-handed golfers will feel the pain in their right elbow, and lefties will feel it in their left elbow. The condition can get painful enough that everyday life bothers it – some people have trouble pulling up trousers or boots.

Golfer's elbow isn't as common as tennis elbow, but it can become a bigger problem for some people.

"There's a bigger risk here of this tendon actually completely rupturing and tearing. If that occurs it's usually a surgical procedure to fix it," explained Evans.

Golfers aren't the only ones at risk, however. Any activity that involves sudden impact like digging or chopping can also lead to golfer's elbow. Repetitively stressing the wrists or fingers – like in racket or throwing sports – puts you at risk, too.

Minor cases of golfer's elbow can be treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. If pain doesn't dissipate within six to eight weeks see a doctor. Serious cases may need a brace or even surgical repair.