What is golfer's elbow?

Golfer’s elbow is when the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the inside bone of the elbow become inflamed (swollen). It is a common elbow injury and is caused by repeating the same elbow and wrist motions over and over. The muscles and tendons that bend the wrist and fingers become fatigued, which causes pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow where they attach.

Besides golf, other sports can raise your risk of getting golfer’s elbow, such as:

  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Throwing a javelin
  • Racquetball and tennis
  • Weightlifting

People who work in jobs that require repeated twisting actions of the wrist also be at a higher risk of getting golfer’s elbow, such as:

  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers
  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Assembly-line workers
  • Computer users
  • Cooks and chefs


The symptoms of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow
  • Pain when shaking hands
  • Pain when bending the wrist with the palms facing downward
  • Numbness and tingling from the elbow down to the pinky and ring fingers

When to See a Doctor

See your doctor if you have any of the symptoms of the symptoms listed above as testing may be needed to confirm or rule out golfer’s elbow

Diagnosis and Tests

Your healthcare provider will take your medical history, ask if you have any risks for the condition and perform a physical exam. Imaging tests, such as an x-ray may be needed to rule out other possible causes of elbow pain. The exam may include:

Pressing on the area of the elbow where forearm muscles attach

Evaluating pain near the elbow


Treatment for golfer’s elbow may include:

  • Rest. Rest is a key treatment since continuing to perform the same activities that caused the pain can cause more damage. Athletes or workers should return to their regular activities only after remaining pain-free, having full range of motion, and after muscle strengthening.
  • Ice therapy. Ice helps lower swelling, which decreases pain. When applying ice to the injury, be sure to place a towel between the ice and the skin.
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises. Physical or occupational therapy may be ordered to help you strengthen supporting muscles and joints and to learn new ways to perform tasks that don’t aggravate the injury.
  • Improving gripping technique. Changing your in grip on sporting equipment or work tools may also take some stress off of the muscles and tendons.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medicines. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin) may be recommended early on. If symptoms don’t get better, an anti-inflammatory steroid injection may be needed to reduce swelling.
  • Wearing a brace. You can buy a special brace for your forearm at most pharmacies. Most braces cover part of the forearm and relieves pressure on the muscles in the area.
  • A gradual return to activity. Avoid activities that cause pain.


Exercises that help stretch and strengthen forearm muscles can help prevent golfer’s elbow. They include:

  • Wrist curls. Grasp a lightweight dumbbell and lower it to the ends of your fingers. Pull the weight back to the palm of your hand then flex the wrist to lift the weight a little higher. Do this 10 times with each hand.
  • Reverse wrist curls. Grasp a lightweight dumbbell and put your hand in front of you with the palms facing downward. Lift the weight up and down using your wrist. Do this 10 times with each hand.
  • Squeezing a tennis ball. Squeeze an old tennis ball continuously for 5-minute at a time.

Support & Resources

Golf Injury Prevention

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Golf Injuries to the Hand, Wrist or Elbow

American Society for Surgery of the Hand:

Home Exercises for Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow

U.S. National Library of Medicine

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