Diagnosing Medial Elbow Pain
Diagnosis of golfer’s elbow is normally clinically diagnosed by your physiotherapist, doctor or equally skilled practitioner. A physiotherapist following listening to the complaint history and performing some appropriate clinical tests can generally make a the diagnosis of Golfer’s Elbow without requiring any diagnostic investigations.
In some situations investigations may be requested to help confirm the diagnosis or grade the severity. In these circumstances an ultrasound scan is often useful and this may be coupled with an X ray of the elbow joint to assess any bony or joint changes. MRI gives the most reliable visual of the soft tissues and can identify tendinopathy more accurately than ultrasound imaging but again is not normally necessary to guide the management of the complaint unless conservative management isn’t progressing as planned or exact diagnosis of the cause of medial elbow pain is proving challenging.
Referred Pain And Golfer’s Elbow
Worth noting is that the cervical spine can commonly refer pain into the upper limb and as a result pain on the inside of the elbow (medial elbow pain) mimicking golfer’s elbow can sometimes be referred from the neck (specifically the lower few levels of the neck are capable of referring pain to the elbow area).
It is important to mention to your treating physiotherapist any neck discomfort you may be experiencing regardless of how irrelevant you may feel it is. Because local treatment directed to your elbow with be fruitless if the pain is referred in nature from the cervical spine. It is often important to have your neck and nerve mobility or your upper limb assessed by your physiotherapist to confirm or exclude any neck dysfunction or neural tension. Failure to do so, may result in slow or even potentially no improvement of your condition.
Treatment For Golfer’s Elbow
The use of physiotherapy in the treatment of golfer’s elbow can be an effective approach to managing the condition. Treatment aims to achieve reduced medial elbow pain and return to function by facilitating tissue repair and restoring tissue movement and strength locally and in appropriately associated areas such as the cervical spine and nerve tissue as mentioned earlier.
What Does Physiotherapy For Golfer’s Elbow Consist Of?
It is not uncommon for golfer’s elbows complaints to last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, physiotherapy is an effective way of managing golfer’s elbow. Physiotherapy may include localised manual therapy, taping techniques, dry needling as well as this shockwave therapy has also been shown to be an effective treatment for tendinopathies like golfer’s elbow. Treatment of associated areas like the cervical spine and neural structures may also be beneficial when treating medial elbow pain. Your physiotherapist will most likely prescribe some home exercises for you to do as well to continue the management of the condition once you leave the practice.
Your physiotherapist may also recommend a elbow support. Just as treating lateral elbow tendinopathies “tennis elbow straps” are an effective addition to golfer’s elbow management in some individuals. Your physiotherapist will also assess you for appropriateness of any bracing options. The function of the brace is to dissipate the stressful gripping forces away from your injured structures.
Early Physiotherapy Treatment Achieves Better Outcomes
Generally the sooner you visit your physiotherapist and start treatment for your medial elbow pain the sooner you’ll be able to resume your usual activities.
Corticosteroid injections and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are sometimes used for stubborn tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow conditions however most people will get better with a combination of physiotherapy treatment and modification or rest from aggravating activities.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Treating Golfer’s Elbow should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.