Posts Tagged ‘Golf Injury Handbook’

The Elbow — A Common Source of Misery for Golfers

The foot-high fescue (benignly called “native grass”) has grown in particularly thick on East Coast golf courses with all the recent rain.

I found out just how thick yesterday when I hit a drive into the tall grass on the second hole of South Fork Country Club in Amagansett, NY. I followed the sage advice of a Jamaican caddy from the Atlantic Golf Club who once told me how to get the ball out of this gnarly lie — “Take your wedge and hit it as hard as you can, mon.” I took my punishment and used the wedge to advance the ball about 50 yards, remembering the caddy’s cheers when I had done the same — “good shot, good shot!”

But I didn’t get out of the rough unscathed. My left elbow took a blow as I pounded down on the ball. It took a hole or two for the sting to go away, and after the round it still hurt some so I took some ibuprofen (which also helped relieve the pain in my surgically repaired right knee, which I had tweaked a few weeks ago) and iced it when I got home.

The elbow is a common source of misery for golfers. The most common type of elbow pain among golfers is called golfer’s elbow. Traditionally, doctors believed that golfers only had pain on the outside of the left (non-dominant) elbow, and dubbed this golfer’s elbow to differentiate it from pain on the inside of the right (dominant) elbow, called tennis elbow. But there seems to be an equal number of problems on both sides of the elbows of golfers.

A right-handed golfer normal feels pain in the left elbow. Pulling the club through the swing with the left wrist causes irritation in the left elbow. So a right-handed golfer who feels pain in the right arm or wrist is doing something terribly wrong during the swing.

As explained in the Golf Injury Handbook, golfer’s elbow is an inflammation of the muscles of the forearm and the tendon that connects the muscles to the bones in the elbow. These muscles are used to bend the wrist backward and to turn the palm face up. When the muscles and tendon become inflamed from overuse, you feel pain on the outside of the elbow. The pain is worse when you try to lift things with your palm facing down, so you may have trouble picking up a coffee cup or taking a quart of milk out of the refrigerator.

This injury also causes pain when you rotate your hand in a counterclockwise direction. You also will feel pain when you clench or squeeze something, such as when you hold a golf club.

Treatment for golfer’s elbow is the same as for tennis elbow — rest and anti-inflammatory agents, followed by physical therapy and a wrist strengthening program. Cortisone injections are only used when this fails. On rare occasions, surgery is necessary to reattach tendons to bone. If elbow pain is very severe, or if it persists for more than a few weeks and prevents playing, you should see a doctor.

Here are a few other tips from the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics on how to avoid Golfer’s Elbow:

1. Select the Right Golf Clubs. It’s crucial to make sure that you are using golf clubs that are sized properly, including grip size.

2. Stretching Exercises. Simple stretches of the muscles and tendons around the elbow may help reduce the symptoms of golfer’s elbow.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Medication. Persistent pain in the elbow area can be relieved by taking an anti-inflammatory medication. Speak to your doctor about a prescription for one of these medications if your pain is severe.