Understanding Golfer’s Elbow

While tennis elbow often steals the spotlight when it comes to elbow injuries, its counterpart, golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, deserves attention. This condition, characterized by pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow, is commonly associated with repetitive motions, particularly in activities like golfing. However, similar to tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow can affect individuals across various professions and recreational pursuits. Let’s delve into the intricacies of golfer’s elbow to understand its causes, symptoms, and effective treatment approaches.


To comprehend golfer’s elbow, it’s essential to familiarize ourselves with the anatomy of the elbow joint. Just as in tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow involves the tendons and bony landmarks of the elbow region. In this case, the focus shifts to the medial epicondyle, that bony protrusion on the inner side of the elbow. Not sure which side is the inner side? Hold your arm out in front of you, palm facing up. It’s the side of your elbow closest to your ribcage. 

Golfer’s elbow occurs due to “overuse” (aka “under preparedness”) or repetitive stress on the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle. These tendons are responsible for anchoring the muscles involved in flexing the wrist and fingers (think of the wrist and fingers folding in, toward the wrist). Activities that involve repeated gripping, swinging, or lifting can strain these tendons, leading to micro-tears, inflammation, and discomfort.


The symptoms of golfer’s elbow often mirror those of tennis elbow and may include:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow, near the medial epicondyle
  • Discomfort when gripping objects or flexing the wrist
  • Weakness in grip strength
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion in the affected arm

While golfers are particularly prone to this condition due to the repetitive swinging motion involved in the sport, individuals in professions that require repetitive hand and wrist movements, such as carpenters, painters, and plumbers, are also at risk.


Similar to tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow can often be diagnosed through physical examination and specific orthopedic tests. Healthcare providers may palpate (touch) the area around the medial epicondyle to identify tenderness and swelling. Additionally, resisted wrist flexion or gripping tests may reproduce pain, which helps to diagnose the presence of golfer’s elbow.

In cases where the diagnosis is unclear or if there’s suspicion of other underlying conditions, imaging studies like X-rays or MRI scans may be recommended to visualize the structures of the elbow joint and assess the extent of damage.

At Life Moves MT, our practitioners are trained in the orthopedic assessments used to identify golfer’s elbow. Please remember that while Licensed Massage Therapists (LMTs) may use these results to inform their treatment plan and recommendations, or to communicate findings to the Chiropractor, LMTs cannot legally provide a diagnosis to you, the client.


Effective management of golfer’s elbow typically involves a combination of conservative treatments aimed at reducing pain and inflammation while promoting healing. Some common treatment strategies include:

  • Rest: Giving the affected arm adequate rest to allow the injured tendons to heal. Remember, once the joint and surrounding tissues are “angry” (inflamed), they will respond more sensitively to all activity. Think of this as a “cooling off” period.
  • Ice and Heat Therapy: Applying ice packs to reduce inflammation followed by heat therapy to improve blood flow and promote healing.
  • Compression: Using compression sleeves or bands to provide support and reduce swelling.
  • Massage Therapy: Clinical massage can help to ease discomfort and increase circulation (good for healing) as well as address other imbalances developing due to compensations from discomfort.
  • Chiropractic Adjustment: Healthy joint alignment is key in supporting proper body mechanics during and after healing. 
  • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Incorporating gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to improve flexibility and muscle endurance while avoiding exacerbating symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be recommended to alleviate pain and inflammation.
  • Frequency-Specific Microcurrent: Microcurrent can help alleviate inflammation in the affected tissues and promote increased ATP production to help speed up recovery. 
  • Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist to develop a customized rehabilitation program focusing on strengthening the muscles around the elbow joint and improving range of motion can support near term relief and long term prevention.
  • Kinesiology Taping (K-Taping): K-tape applications can provide additional support and help support healthier neuromuscular engagement.

In more severe or persistent cases of golfer’s elbow, corticosteroid injections or other advanced interventions like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy may be considered to promote tissue healing and alleviate symptoms.


Prevention plays a crucial role in managing golfer’s elbow and reducing the risk of recurrence. Some preventive measures include:

  • Using proper technique and equipment during sports and activities to minimize stress on the elbow joint. Yes, even proper technique can be problematic when repeated over and over again. But improper technique or body mechanics will become much more problematic with far fewer reps. Re-evaluate and check in with a professional to see if you’re doing everything you can to support your body. 
  • Incorporating regular strength and flexibility exercises to maintain optimal muscle balance and joint stability. Golf may be something you love. Or maybe your job requires these movements. Either way, at LMMT we like to say “train for your life.” Cross training outside of your work activities or favorite hobby plays a vital role in maintaining balance in a healthy (and prepared) joint.
  • Taking frequent breaks during repetitive tasks to prevent overuse injuries. No one here will question your ability to “push through.” We may, however, question how much love and respect you have for what your body and your joints. Set the ego aside and prioritize breaks and recovery.
  • Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of physical activities to allow the body to adapt and avoid sudden spikes in stress on the tendons. Here again, it’s the “shoulds” in our head that come from our ego and push us to increase activity levels faster than we ought to. Practice that self love and acceptance while you ease into higher rep activities.

By understanding the underlying causes of golfer’s elbow and implementing appropriate preventive measures and treatment strategies, individuals can effectively manage this condition and maintain optimal elbow health.

Remember, early intervention and consistent rehabilitation efforts are key to achieving long-term relief and preventing future injuries. If you’re experiencing persistent elbow pain or discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Prioritize your elbow health, stay active, and enjoy the activities you love with confidence and comfort!