Golf is much more physically demanding than people give it credit for. Combine that with how the vast majority of golfers don’t discover the sport until well into adulthood, golf injuries are quite common.
Second to low back pain, elbow pain is the most common problem golfers’ come across. Golfer’s Elbow is even a term many practitioners use to describe the certain elbow pain golfers commonly feel. Tennis Elbow is just as if not more common among golfers-the difference is the side of the elbow where the pain is felt.
Golfer’s Elbow-or medial epicondylitis, is when the tendon on the inner side of the elbow gets inflamed. This causes sharp pain in the elbow, down the inner side of the forearm and sometimes into the hand. There can be swelling on the inside of the elbow-enough to make a bump! In addition to the pain, it can get increasingly difficult to do things like push a door open or squeeze a ball.
In contrast, Lateral epicondylitis-Tennis Elbow-is inflammation of the tendon on the outside of the elbow. This causes similar forearm and hand pain and symptoms, and is indicatively known for causing pain during a handshake in more severe cases.
The thing that surprises many golfers (and many other people!) is this injury is not caused by a single traumatic event. This is an overuse or repetition injury common in sports like golf, tennis, bowling, and also with people who have repetitive jobs like cashiers or work a lot at a computer. Most people expect pain that severe and causing that much dysfunction to at least have a cool story to go along with it-nope, sorry!
The best thing to do if you feel sharp pain or swelling in your elbow, or any weakness in your hand, is to seek treatment right away. These tendonitis conditions are easy to treat if caught quickly. I often prescribe a brace depending upon the exact location and severity of the pain. Ice and rest will be a required-much to the disdain of many athletes-but if the rules are followed you will be able to return to full activity quickly with no residuals.