Expert Guide To Elbow Tendinitis (Tendonitis) for Golfers and Non-Golfers

This Guest Post is written by Joe Fleming, the President of Vive Health.

Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow) are bad news for golfers because a good game largely depends on an easy and consistent swing.

Epicondylitis is more commonly known as tendinitis or tendonitis. Both words are technically spelled correctly, but tendinitis tends to be the more preferred term used in medical literature so we’ll stick with that spelling.

Elbow tendinitis often makes swings painful, particularly the drives, robbing golfers of both pleasure and practice time. Alternatively, golfers may subconsciously alter their swings to compensate for the pain, affecting both accuracy and distance on these important shots.

Although elbow tendinitis can effectively derail your game for several days or even several weeks, it is not terribly difficult to prevent or treat.

Causes of Elbow Tendinitis

More people visit their doctors because of elbow tendinitis than for any other type of elbow pain. This repetitive stress injury is not caused by movement in the elbow, but by a repetitive gripping motion. That could be a golf club, tennis racquet, computer keyboard, mechanical tool, or almost anything else that requires such a motion.

Repetitive gripping triggers inflammation in the tendon that stretches from the fingers to the elbow, and that’s where the pain emerges. The condition is most common in people over 40 because, over time, the muscles become more susceptible to injury.

Golfers and tennis players for that matter are susceptible to both golfers and tennis elbow. In either case, treatment options are the same only that the exercises to treat the cause may require opposite manipulation of the tool.

Symptoms of Elbow Tendinitis

Most of the pain is localized in the bony area just outside the elbow and across the forearm for tennis elbow.

And pain with golfers elbow is located on the inside of the elbow.

The pain occurs where the inflamed tendon connects with the joint. Many times, however, the discomfort also radiates into the arm.

There are several triggers for tendinitis pain, including:

  • Lifting lightweight objects, such as a coffee cup or remote control, that also require a gripping motion
  • Making a tight fist, such as the one involved in a golf club swing.
  • Gripping and moving the hand, including motions like twisting a doorknob and shaking hands; and
  • Raising or lowering your hand.

Elbow tendinitis usually shows up on common diagnostic devices, like MRI and X-Ray machines. These gadgets also help your doctor rule out other conditions, such as stress fractures, arthritis, and bursitis.

Treatment of Elbow Tendinitis

Given rest, tennis elbow usually heals on its own in a few weeks. There are some things you can do to expedite the process even more:

Cold Therapy: Ice reduces inflammation and also alleviates discomfort. If you use a commercial ice pack, be sure it stays almost freezer cold for at least 20 minutes, because that’s the amount of time you need to ice your elbow.
Compression: Wearing a brace for elbow tendinitis compresses the area to reduce swelling, supports the joint while the tendon heals, and partially immobilizes the joint to prevent further injury. A tightly-wrapped Ace Bandage works almost as well, though it is rather unwieldy.
Elevation: During periods of inactivity, keep the affected elbow elevated above your heart, to further reduce inflammation and swelling.
NSAID Pain Relievers: When used sparingly, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines reduce pain and swelling, but if used too much, these medicines have unwanted side effects, including ulcers and delayed healing.
Exercise: A doctor or trainer can recommend some range of motion exercises that usually need to be done several times a day. Read 3 Golfers Elbow Exercises That Will Get Rid of The Pain for more information.

If the injury does not seem to be healing very quickly, steroid injections and/or physical therapy may be an option.

Prognosis

No two people heal at the same pace, but the signs of recovery are the same for everyone, at least in most cases.

Before returning to golf and other normal activities, tendinitis should be 100 percent better. That means zero pain, zero swelling, and full range of motion. If the injured elbow does not look and feel exactly like the other one, the tendinitis lingers, and the increased activity will make the injury recur and be much worse than it was before.

Elbow Tendinitis Prevention

Poor equipment can cause tendinitis. Specifically, your club’s grip may either be too thick or too narrow or worn out so you need to tighten your grip on the club.

Many times, a little more or less grip tape will do the trick. Keep in mind that as much as many golfers play, even a slightly oversized or undersized grip may cause problems over the long run.

Incorrect posture, even if it has little or nothing to do with the grip, can also trigger overcompensation and tendinitis.

Swing characteristics such as chicken winging, scooping, casting, and other flaws that cause the arms to extend can lead to tendinitis.

There are some other prevention tips as well. Before you hit the links, do some of those wrist, elbow, and shoulder range of motion exercises. During play, consider wearing a supporting brace or compression sleeve. After you hit the clubhouse, ice your elbow.

The bottom line is that elbow tendinitis is rather easy to prevent and although it’s also easy to treat, there’s no need to cause a painful injury.

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Joe Fleming

Joe Fleming

President at ViveHealth.com

Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces...the goal is to help others “rebel against age”.

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Tennis Elbow: by www.scientificanimations.com (http://www.scientificanimations.com/wiki-images/) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Golfers Elbow: by www.scientificanimations.com – http://www.scientificanimations.com/wiki-images/, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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