How Long Does It Take for Golfer's Elbow To Heal?
If your elbow starts to hurt before you finish your 18-hole round, you may have golfer’s elbow, which is a condition that causes pain or swelling in the arm. While it’s common among golfers, it can affect anyone who makes similar repetitive movements. Fortunately, golfer’s elbow is treatable, although it’s important to see a doctor if you think you have this condition, as they can recommend the best treatment options to help you to recover fully. Keep reading to learn more about golfer’s elbow, what causes this condition, and how you can treat it.
What Is Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow, known as medial epicondylitis in medical language, is an overuse injury caused by repetitive movements. It damages the tendons on the inner side of the elbow that connect the forearm to the elbow. If you develop golfer’s elbow, you may feel pain in the bony part of your inside elbow. This pain may extend into your forearm or wrist.
While it’s called golfer’s elbow, this condition can affect you if you play other sports, such as baseball or bowling, or if you make repetitive wrist movements. The common causes of golfer’s elbow include the following:
- Sports: Common sports that may cause golfer’s elbow include racket sports, such as tennis, and throwing sports, such as baseball or football. If you’re using the incorrect form or faulty equipment when you play these sports, you can damage the tendons around your elbow.
- Weightlifting: Using improper techniques when you lift weights can overwork the tendons on your elbow, which may lead to golfer’s elbow.
- Repetitive movements: Some people develop golfer’s elbow because they make forceful, repetitive movements of their wrists. Therefore, it’s a common condition for people in professions like carpentry, painting, plumbing, and construction.
Many people mistake golfer’s elbow for tennis elbow. Although they’re both forms of tendinitis, they have several key differences. Golfer’s elbow affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow, while tennis elbow damages the tendons on the outside of the elbow. Between the two, tennis elbow is the more common condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow can develop suddenly or over time. The most common symptom of this condition is pain on the inside of your elbow, which may be the most severe immediately after you wake up in the morning. You may feel this pain only around your elbow, or it may extend to your forearm and wrist. Other common symptoms of golfer’s elbow include the following:
- Stiffness in your elbow.
- Pain in your elbow or forearm when you make certain movements, such as a fist or handshake.
- Weakness in your hands and wrists.
- Reduced grip strength when performing an action, such as swinging a club.
- Numbness or tingling in your forearm, hand, or fingers.
In severe cases of golfer’s elbow, you may experience worsened pain or weakness. If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention so that a doctor can diagnose you and explain your treatment options:
- Severe pain affecting your everyday activities, such as sleep.
- Swelling around the elbow that doesn’t go down with ice.
- Inability to move your elbow.
- Fever or other worsening physical symptoms.
When you make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist, they will perform a physical exam and review your medical history to diagnose you. In some cases, they may take X-rays or an MRI to diagnose the condition.
How Do You Fix Golfer’s Elbow?
While it’s important to see an orthopedic doctor who can officially diagnose your condition and prescribe treatment, you can relieve the pain of golfer’s elbow in several ways by using at-home treatments. These include the following:
- Rest: It’s important to stop doing any activity that causes you to experience pain in your elbow, forearm, or wrist, such as golfing or bowling. If your profession requires you to continue performing repetitive wrist movements, you should make an appointment with your doctor so that you can receive treatment as soon as possible.
- Ice: Apply ice packs to the area of pain or swelling several times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Use a towel around the ice pack to protect your skin.
- Stretching: Perform simple stretches to strengthen your forearm, which can help to relieve the pain. Your doctor can recommend several helpful physical therapy exercises you can perform throughout the day.
- Bracing: Often, bracing, taping, or splinting the elbow can help to relieve strain on the tendons, which may provide pain relief.
- Anti-inflammatory medication: To help you to manage your pain, you can take anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs can also help to reduce swelling.
How Long Does It Take for Golfer’s Elbow To Heal?
The time it takes you to recover and heal from golfer’s elbow can vary depending on the severity of the condition. If you have a minor case, it’s possible that you could heal with consistent rest, icing, and stretching. Typically, it takes approximately three to six months for golfer’s elbow to heal completely using noninvasive methods.
In severe cases, golfer’s elbow may require surgery, which involves removing the damaged parts of a tendon. After surgery, it may take three to six months to recover fully from the condition. If you think you may have golfer’s elbow, you can make an appointment with Dr. Lyn Ward, M.D., who will evaluate your condition and recommend the best treatment option for your situation.
What Happens if Golfer’s Elbow Goes Untreated?
If you’re experiencing pain in your inner elbow, forearm, or wrist, it’s important to see a doctor so that you can begin the recovery process. Fortunately, most people can recover from golfer’s elbow without surgical intervention. However, if it’s left untreated, golfer’s elbow can cause severe pain, swelling, tingling, or numbness. Over time, the condition can affect your gripping ability and range of motion in your elbow. Chronic pain and permanent damage are possible if you don’t seek treatment for this condition.
Schedule an Appointment With Dr. Lyn Ward in North Texas
If you’re suffering from golfer’s elbow, you should make an appointment with Dr. Ward at Orthopedics Specialists of North Texas. Our team has many years of experience diagnosing and treating common elbow-related conditions, including golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, and other forms of tendinitis. Dr. Ward’s office is centrally located in Denton, Texas, and serves patients from Dallas-Fort Worth and the surrounding North Texas area. With on-site diagnostic imaging and physical therapy, our board-certified orthopedic specialists can help you to take the next step toward pain-free living. You can contact us for more information or schedule an appointment online.