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Physical Therapy for Golfer’s Elbow — Information, Exercises, and More

If you have discomfort or irritation on the inner side of your arm and elbow, you could have golfer’s elbow — even if you don’t play golf.

If you’ve been diagnosed with golfer’s elbow, you understand the pain that can stop you in your tracks.

You don’t have to live with this discomfort. For people with golfer’s elbow, physical therapy can help. There are proven treatment options and exercises to help you get back in the game and back to your life.

In this informational guide, we’ll share with you:

  • Symptoms 
  • Physical therapy exercises for golfer’s elbow
  • Stretches for golfer’s elbow
  • And more

Table of Contents

What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

You may have heard golfer’s elbow called medial epicondylitis. Most people refer to it as golfer’s elbow because that’s much easier to say.

So what is golfer’s elbow?

Similar to tennis elbow (which occurs on the outside of the joint), golfer’s elbow is a condition that causes pain where the tendons of your forearm muscle attach to the bony nub on the inside of your elbow.

Golfer’s elbow is a type of tendinitis often caused by overuse or injury. Small tears occur in the tendon that connects the elbow to the wrist. This causes swelling of the tendon and may lead to pain in the:

  • Elbow
  • Forearm; and
  • Wrist

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow occurs when the muscles and tendons that control your wrist and fingers become damaged.

The most common cause of golfer’s elbow is overuse in the form of excess or repeated stress — especially forceful wrist and finger motions.

Many assume it’s caused by swinging a golf club over and over. It can be, but many other actions can also lead to this condition.

Aside from golf, some activities that can bring about golfer’s elbow include:

  • Weight lifting — Improper technique can overload the elbow muscles and tendons.
    • Racket sports — You may have issues if you use a racket that’s too small or too heavy or if you have improper technique.
  • Throwing sports — These include bad form in baseball, football, archery, and javelin. 

The common problems here are improper technique and poor preparation.

Some occupations that can lead to the development of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Butchers
  • Plumbers
  • Construction workers
  • Assembly line workers
  • Cooks
  • Painters
  • Meat processors

These jobs often require repetitive motion that can lead to joint strain and pain. 

To cause golfer’s elbow, the activity generally needs to be done for more than an hour per day for several days.

Risk Factors Associated With Golfer’s Elbow

You could be at a higher risk of developing golfer’s elbow if you’re:

  • Age 40 or older
  • Performing repetitive activity at least two hours a day
  • Obese; or
  • A smoker

Prevention of Golfer’s Elbow

If you haven’t been diagnosed with golfer’s elbow but think you are at risk or you perform one or more of the activities listed previously, there are ways to prevent the condition from occurring.

You can take these steps now to prevent golfer’s elbow:

  • Strengthen your forearm muscles. Use light weights or squeeze a tennis ball.
  • Prepare your body for activities. Walk or jog for a few minutes to warm up your muscles. Then do gentle stretches before beginning.
  • Fix your form. Ask an instructor to check your movements to avoid overload on muscles and joints.
  • Use the right equipment. If you have a heavy old set of golf clubs, consider upgrading to lighter graphite.
  • Lift properly. When lifting anything — including free weights — make sure you use the right technique.
  • Know when to rest. Try not to overuse your elbow. At the first sign of pain, take a break.

Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms

If you have golfer’s elbow, you may experience:

  • Pain and tenderness — usually felt on the inner side of your elbow and can worsen with certain movements
  • Stiffness 
  • Weakness — usually felt in the hands and wrists
  • Numbness and tingling — may radiate into one or more fingers (usually the ring and pinky fingers)

These symptoms can come on suddenly or gradually. They may worsen (especially the pain) with certain movements, such as swinging a golf club.

Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

Most people can find relief for their golfer’s elbow at home before they need to see a doctor. Treatment usually begins with rest.

Resting from the activity that caused the issue may relieve pain within a few days.

Home remedies include:

  • Icing the elbow and inner part of the forearm
  • Taking over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Performing strengthening exercises
  • Stretching the forearm
  • Returning gradually to the activity
  • Using braces for golfer’s elbow

Golfer’s elbow braces can be purchased online or at most pharmacies. Your doctor or physical therapist may also supply a brace.

When To See a Doctor for Golfer’s Elbow

If you’ve tried rest, pain relievers, and a brace and your pain and tenderness have not gotten better, it may be time to see your primary doctor.

In most cases, your doctor will recommend physical therapy and a brace.

In some cases, a doctor may also recommend:

Can Physical Therapy Help Golfer’s Elbow?

Absolutely. Many doctors recommend PT for golfer’s elbow.

Your physical therapist has a deep understanding of the human body and this condition. They can put together a personal plan just for you and your golfer’s elbow.

A physical therapist knows the best exercises to relieve golfer’s elbow and can help you meet your rehabilitation goals.


Best Golfer’s Elbow Treatment Exercises

Some of the best golfer’s elbow therapy exercises include:

  • Wrist extension stretch
  • Wrist flexion stretch
  • Forearm supination and pronation
  • Stress ball squeeze
  • Finger stretch

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Golfer’s Elbow

If you need golfer’s elbow physical therapy, contact us as soon as possible.

At In Motion O.C., our mission is to bring you hope, healing, confidence, and joy. Let us help you get back to your life and the things you love.

If you need convincing, we have countless testimonials — along with our #1 rating on Yelp — to prove our commitment to our clients.

Call us today for a consultation to get you back in the swing of things in no time.


The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.

In Motion O.C.