What is Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s Elbow is a tendonitis condition that develops on the inside part of the elbow. Golfer’s Elbow is also called Medial Epicondylitis. It is the counterpart to Tennis Elbow, which is the same type of tendonitis condition that develops on the outside of the elbow. Even though it is called Golfer’s Elbow, it affects various different people and is often not caused by sports at all.
Activities such as weightlifting, cleaning, or any activity that involves repetitive flexion of the elbow and usage of those muscles of the wrist flexors lead to pain and inflammation.
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Who is most likely to get Golfer’s Elbow? People participate in activities that involve sports or high force tasks or the same task repeatedly. This is not uncommon in computer works, laborers, or assembly workers. Anyone that performs repetitive tasks may be at risk of developing medial epicondylitis. The frustrating aspect of Golfer’s Elbow is that once it develops, it may severely limit life activities. It may be something as trivial as lifting a light briefcase, or performing some sort of cleaning activities over a weekend may then be painful.
Anatomy of the Elbow
The elbow is classified as a hinge joint which only allows flexion and extension of the forearm. Rotation of the arm must occur in the forearm or shoulder. The elbow joint occurs at the junction of the Humerus (upper arm bone, “Funny” bone.) The Ulna, the larger of the two forearm bones, and the Radius bone make up the lower arm and the proximal aspect of the wrist joint.
The Humerus forms the upper part of the elbow and has two prominent bony landmarks, the medial and lateral epicondyles. These can be felt on either side of the elbow joint and is the location of where the forearm muscles originate.
There are actually three joints that sit at the elbow area. The first being the hinge joint mentioned above called the Humeralulnar Joint.
The second is the Humeroradial joint between the Radius and the Humerus which again allows flexion and extension. The third is a joint formed by the Radius and Ulan and is called the Radioulnar Joint and allows the more complex motion of turning the hand over so the palm faces up or down.
Causes of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s Elbow occurs on the inside area of the elbow in golfers, typically the inside of the elbow of the right-handed golfer. It is caused by having repeated strain on the muscles and tendons that are constantly pulling in the area, which may cause micro trauma and inflammation.
Most of the time when people set up for their swing, they carry through the strike of the ball and have a tendency to “chicken wing” their arm (pulling the arm in) rather than follow through. This action fights the large forces that are generated during the downswing and rather than shifting stresses into the ball, it places the force on the inside area of the elbow.
It doesn’t take much of a “pull” to create significant stress on those tendons and ligaments when you have all the momentum and weight of a club going away from your body. Especially in today’s game with super-light handles and large-headed clubs, the forces are very high. Now imagine performing that swings hundreds of times in a day, week, or year and how much stress that puts on the tendons. This may even cause micro-tears within the tendon. The micro-tears are the actual underlying cause of the pain and weakness in the tendon, check on this video on Tendonitis to learn more.
If you develop Golfer’s Elbow the best initial treatment is anti-inflammatory modalities such as bracing, icing, and medication as needed for pain. The bracing used is called “counterforce” bracing and acts as the alter load on the tendons.
Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s Elbow is characterized by:
- Pain and tenderness on the inside side of your elbow. Sometimes the pain extends along the inner side of your forearm but located most of the time near the elbow. Pain can worsen with certain movements or gripping
- Stiffness. Your elbow may feel stiff and sluggish.
- Weakness. You may have weakness in your hands and wrists, limiting grip strength and the ability to make a fist.
- Numbness or tingling. These sensations might radiate into the fingers – usually the ring and little finger. This may be due to inflammation in the area of the Ulnar nerve that also lies on the inside of the elbow.
The pain of Golfer’s Elbow can come suddenly or gradually. The pain might worsen when you:
- Swinging a golf club or racket
- Squeezing or pitch a ball
- Shaking hands
- Turn a doorknob
- Lifting weights
- Picking up something with your palm down
- Flexing your wrist
Reviewing the Braces for Golfer’s Elbow
The goal of bracing for Golfer’s Elbow is to change the area of the tendon that the load is being absorbed. By changing that area, the load is being placed, it allows the micro-tears to heal and for the body to be able to resume the activities that were once painful. It also will slowly allow for pain-free strengthening to prevent it from coming back. When assessing the best Braces for Golfer’s Elbow there were a few important aspects that we took into consideration including the cost, ease of use, durability, warranty (our favorite thing), and overall the effect of decreasing pain.
Does the brace cost an arm and a leg? Is there a similar brace in terms of effectiveness at a lower price point.
Ease of Use:
How easy is the brace to put on by yourself? You don’t want to have to ask your spouse, friend, or anyone else to help you put the brace on. Also, is it easy to clean and maintain.
How long with the brace last? Is the low cost offset by needing to replace the brace often? Can you put in the washing machine to clean? Finally, can you put it through the wringer while playing sports, and will it hold up?
We love warranties! Despite reviewing all of the braces sometimes braces fail and we want to make sure that you can get your money back without a hassle. Whether it breaks or doesn’t work for you, warranties are a must.
Does the brace do what it is supposed to do? How effective is the brace at taking down the pain and helping the common flexor tendon heal?
How to Use a Brace
Golfer's Elbow Exercises
The Best Braces for Golfer’s Elbow
Dashsport Elbow Brace
The Dashsport Brace combines the modern and the classic forms in one. This comes with the classic strap that redistributes the load on the tenon and has the compression sleeve which helps with pain and swelling. Don’t really care about the copper lining as the research is thin on the benefits in medical journals however the quality of the sleeve is great. This brace has over 850 reviews on amazon. Comes with an Ebook as well and of course, our favorite thing, the 100% money-back guarantee!
Valpeau Elbow Brace
The Velpeau Brace is a modern design that comes with gel pads that change the area of tension and also provide compression through the sleeve design. It can be placed on the inside or the outside of the elbow and is one of the best first choice braces on the market. The compression helps with pain, swelling, and sensitivity. Material is great for sweating and is durable. It comes with a 100% money-back guarantee (our favorite).
Venom Elbow Sports Brace
The Venom Sports Brace is a compression sleeve designed to provide pain relief and support. This is a lightweight brace that is easy to care for, easy to put on, and provides great relief during sports. Venom is a trusted leader in bracing and comes with great customer support. Comes in individual sizes that create an optimal fit.
Play Active Elbow Brace
The Play Active brace is a classic tension brace that helps decrease the loading on the tendon. This classic style can be applied to the medial or lateral elbow for both Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow. This comes with 2 braces so you can leave one at home and one in the gym bag. It also comes with clear instructions and a digital e-guide. The brace is made from 65% Neoprene / 35% Nylon. Finally, we love the money-back guarantee.
Simien Elbow Brace
The Simien Golfer’s Elbow brace also follows the classic brace design. This package also includes 2 braces so one can be kept at home and one in the golf bag. This is a minimal design to maximize comfort. This also comes with a free e-book, instructions, and a sweatband (not needed but hey). This is a one size fits all made from 65% neoprene and 35% nylon. Also features a lifetime guarantee which is why we love this brace.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.