Pain and discomfort from golf elbow can be enough to make a golfer want to put his clubs away. Also known as medial epicondylitis, golfer's elbow is similar to tennis elbow, according to the Mayo Clinic. Golfers, tennis players and others who repeatedly hinge their wrists or clench their fingers can develop golfer’s elbow.
Golfer’s elbow causes pain on the inner side of your elbow and can extend to your forearm. Your elbow may feel stiff and it can hurt to make a fist. Other symptoms include numbness or tingling in your elbow, along with weakness in your hands and wrists.
You may notice symptoms of golfer’s elbow when swinging a golf club. The Mayo Clinic reports that the pain can occur gradually or suddenly. You may feel pain for the first time when shaking hands with a playing partner after a round. Other simple activities such as flexing your wrist forward on a chip shot or picking up a ball from the green with your palm down can cause pain because of the ailment.
Golfer’s elbow is sometimes treatable with ice, rest and over-the-counter pain medication to reduce swelling and tenderness. However, you should consult a doctor if that doesn't work or if you can't bend your elbow, your elbow appears deformed, or you fear you may have broken a bone. You should also see a doctor if your elbow feels hot or if you have a fever.
Doctors can treat extreme instances of golfer’s elbow through surgery, according to WebMD. Your doctor may recommend procedures that include removing a damaged tendon or reattaching a tendon to the bone. One goal of surgery is to improve blood flow to the area around the elbow.
Surgery is usually a last resort. WebMD reports that surgery usually becomes a viable option after three to six months of treating the condition with ice, rest, stretching exercises and gradual strength training. During that period your doctor will ask you to stop playing golf and end other activities that cause discomfort. Surgery requires a full recovery period of three to six months.
Golfer’s elbow is caused by damage to tendons and muscles used to control your fingers and wrist. Repetitive use of these tendons and muscles causes the damage. This is preventable in golf by gripping and swinging your clubs correctly. The Mayo Clinic reports that an awkward swing or grip can place pressure on your elbow. Avoid this by having a PGA or LPGA professional check your swing or grip for correctness.