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Golfer's elbow

Diagnosis of golfer's elbow

Diagnosing golfer's elbow is pretty straightforward. Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. He or she may also apply pressure to specific areas while you move your elbow, wrist, and fingers, to see how the pain disperses or changes.

Your doctor may order an x-ray to rule out a fracture or arthritis, but it’s rare to need further imaging.


Most cases of golfer's elbow respond to self-treatment with rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines. Elbow surgery for tendonitis may be necessary to repair severe damage to the tendons and forearm muscles, but this is generally the last course of action.

Strengthening your forearm muscles is also an essential part of the treatment and prevention of golfer's elbow. Tennis ball squeezes, wrist curls, and reverse wrist curls may help. For golfers, also work on slowing your golf swing to reduce the force on your arm when striking the ball. All athletes should remember to warm up before and stretch after activities.

The orthopedic team at Dignity Health treats patients with golfer's elbow, among many other conditions.


When preparing for a visit with your doctor, write out all the important points you’d like to share so that they may best diagnose you. You'll want to tell your doctor about your symptoms, including how the pain feels and when it began.

Your doctor will want to know about your typical day and the activities you do that aggravate your elbow. Include if you've changed any activities due to pain. Make sure you write down any questions you have for your doctor ahead of time so you don't forget during the appointment.


You will likely make a full recovery from golfer's elbow if you give your injury the rest and rehabilitation time it needs. All injuries are different, and it is best to discuss a plan with your doctor or physical therapist. They will explain when you can fully engage in activities again. Generally, after a few days of ice and rest, you’ll be ready.

Keep in mind that overuse injuries can return, so it is vital to keep up those strengthening exercises and stretches so that you stay injury-free.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.