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Golfers elbow is very similar to tennis elbow, though the primary difference is the location of the pain and activity that caused the injury. Both conditions are a result of repetitive motion of the tendons and muscles of the forearm.

Golfers Elbow or Medial epicondylitis

Both of these conditions lead to inflammation and pain around the elbow.  Golfers elbow is a form of tendonitis and occurs on the inside of the elbow and the pain may radiate and spread to the wrist and forearm. 

Golfers elbow is caused by a weakness or fatigue in the muscles that close the fingers and bend the wrist inward, which makes the area more susceptible to injury.  When the muscle cannot contract properly the force is absorbed by the tendons which cause swelling and inflammation where tendons connect to the elbow.

Symptoms of Golfers Elbow

Golfers elbow is characterized by a variety of different symptoms which can include but is not limited to the following:

  • Numbness or tingling: many people suffering from golfers elbow will feel a numbness or tingling sensation which radiates into one or more of the fingers, most commonly the index and ring fingers.
  • Stiffness: a person might experience weakness in the wrist and hands.
  • Pain and tenderness: it is common for people with golfers elbow to have pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow and sometimes the pain will extend outward on the inner side of the forearm.

The pain associated with golfers elbow can appear suddenly or come on gradually, and what a person experiences will vary according to several different factors.  The pain can grow worse when a person swings the arm, squeezes the muscles of the fingers, shakes hands, turns a doorknob or flexes the wrist inwards toward the forearm.

Causes of Golfers Elbow

Golfers elbow is primarily caused by damage being done to the tendons and muscles that control the fingers and wrist.  The damage is typically caused by repetitive motion or excessive overuse, also by particularly forceful finger and wrist motions.  Sometimes the condition can start because of a sudden force to the wrist or elbow.

Activities which can cause the damage which leads to golfers elbow include the following:

  • Throwing sports:  improperly pitching a ball such as in softball or baseball, can lead to golfers elbow.
  • Racket sports: excessive topspin can damage the wrist and elbow and cause golfers elbow.  Using a racket that is too heavy, small or too tightly strung can also lead to the person injuring the wrist or elbow.
  • Other related activities:  A person, who rakes, hammers, chops woods, paints or types uses repetitive wrist, hand and arm motions can develop golfer’s elbow.
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