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Do you have pain in your elbow? Here’s how to tell if it’s golfer’s elbow (and what to do if it is).

If you have pain, inflammation and tenderness on the inside of your elbow that spreads to your forearm, you may have a condition known as golfer’s elbow. This condition, also called medial epicondylitis, gets its name because it is commonly seen in golfers. But you don’t have to play golf to get it. It’s the result of anything that causes wear and tear of the tendons and muscles used to grasp objects or flex your wrist.

In addition to golf, this condition may occur if you participate in racket sports, weight training, rock climbing or other activities that require repetitive use of the wrist or clenching of the fingers. The main difference between golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow is that golfer’s elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow and tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow.

What are the symptoms of golfer’s elbow?

If you have golfer’s elbow, you may experience:

  • Pain, tenderness and inflammation on the inside of your elbow

  • Pain that extends along the inner side of your forearm to your wrist

  • Elbow stiffness

  • Weakness in your wrist or hand

  • Numbness or tingling that radiates into one or more fingers

Symptoms may be worse with certain movements and may come on suddenly or build up gradually.

How do you treat golfer’s elbow?

When pain and inflammation flare up, rest the area and avoid activities or movements that cause pain. Applying ice and using over-the-counter pain relievers helps ease discomfort. If using ice, apply to your elbow for 15 – 20 minutes at a time, but put a thin towel between the ice pack and your skin. Ice can be used about 3 – 4 times a day to ease inflammation.

If rest, ice and OTC pain relievers aren’t enough, get evaluated by a doctor to rule out any other issues and to get treatment recommendations. Wearing a brace or doing physical or occupational therapy may help. In rare occasions, surgery may be recommended, but this is usually a last resort option and is not often needed.

Is there a way to prevent golfer’s elbow?

There are exercises you can do to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in the area where golfer’s elbow occurs. This may make it less likely you will develop the condition or that it will return once you get it. Ensuring your technique is correct when performing activities that typically cause golfer’s elbow, such as swinging a golf club or tennis racket, can also help you avoid the pain and discomfort of the condition.



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Date Last Reviewed: January 19, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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