Golfer’s elbow (Medial epicondylitis)
Medial epicondylitis or golfer’s elbow as its more commonly known, is not a disorder reserved for those who enjoy a game of golf. It is commonly caused by the swinging action used in golf, but it can also be caused by overuse and repetitive activities such as throwing a ball (it is also known as a baseball elbow), carrying heavy suitcases, playing tennis (tennis elbow) or even more commonly as an effect of weak shoulder and wrist muscles.
The pain originates from the medial epicondyle, which is the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. It starts there as the main tendon attaching to it is affected in the overuse of the wrist flexor muscles and eventually gets inflamed. Inflammation causes the pain and discomfort. The tendon could also undergo wear and tear which leads to degeneration of the tissue and this eventually causes scar tissue to build up, which is not as elastic and does not have the full strength of the original tendon. With time and repetitive strain, the scar tissue never fully heals. This leaves the injured areas weakened and painful.
How do I treat it without surgical intervention?
The key to treating the problem is to prevent the collagen in the tendon from further injury and from breaking down further. Key is to let your tendon heal completely. Recent studies have shown shockwave therapy to be a good form of treatment. It uses a machine to generate shock wave pulses to the affected area. This helps in easing the pain, breaking down scar tissue and improving the patient’s range of motion and function. Other physiotherapy includes applying ice, electrical stimulation and iontophoresis. All of which helps to ease the pain and improve the healing of the collagen within the tendon.
Chiropractic care can help with adjustments of your shoulder, elbow and wrists which could become restricted due to the scar tissue build up or compensation mechanisms from the injury. At times patients also have upper back and neck pain which could be correlated to them compensating and swinging their golf clubs in different ways to accommodate their elbow injury. Strengthening exercises as well as stretching and release on the forearm muscles have proven beneficial.
Kinesiotaping has also been proven helpful in maintaining the stability of the structure within the elbow while helping take the load off the elbows’ muscles and tendons.
In cases where the tendon is inflamed, nonsurgical treatment is usually only needed for four to six weeks. When symptoms are from tendinosis, you can expect healing to take longer, usually up to three months. If the tendinosis is chronic and severe, complete healing can take up to six months.
If you are currently not suffering from any symptoms of pain, remember that prevention is always better than the cure! Have a proper warm up before your game and also take care of your ligaments, muscles, tendons and overall spinal alignment to help prevent injuries in general.
Swing by and see how Healthworks can help you get you back on course.