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A guide to golfers' elbow

Golfer’s elbow occurs when the soft tissue or muscles at the front of the forearm responsible for extending the wrist and fingers, become inflamed or damaged and is commonly seen in golfers. This injury is commonly seen in golfers due to the nature of the repetitive wrist extension against the resistance of the club and ground and the repetitive gripping of the hand on the club causing a strain on the soft tissue. As well as golf this injury is also seen in hobbies and jobs such as painting, brick laying or even knitting. Although, usually seen as an overuse injury this injury can be caused by sudden impact. Due to the nature of the injury the symptoms of golfer’s elbow will gradually appear over time. Patients will usually feel pain and tenderness at the elbow joint which will become more apparent when any activity requiring the elbow is undergone. The severity of the injury pain can range from a small twinge to a constant sharp pain which may even be felt in the forearm, neck or upper back. The patient may also feel a decrease in grip strength when grasping an object. Golfer’s elbow will be diagnosed by a doctor or physiotherapist who will examine the areas before diagnosis, it is also common for a doctor to order either an X-ray or MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out further complications. In order to treat this injury, rest is crucial so to not damage the soft tissue any further as well as avoiding as much strenuous activity as possible, for example resuming sport may cause further damage and only hinder the healing process. Applying ice to the area is also an important aspect of recovery for any soft tissue injury as it will minimise any swelling and inflammation of the area. Following the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) when the injury first occurs and within the following 72 hours will ensure no further damage is caused to the area. Anti-Inflammatory medications may be taken to relive the pain of the injury and also to minimise any swelling. Elbow supports and braces are often recommended to patients with golfers’ elbow as they will provide the elbow with support, allowing effective healing whilst relieving strain from the tendon. Many patients also continue to use straps as well as taping techniques once they return to sport to prevent the injury reoccurring in the future.