Getting back in the swing after Golf Elbow

Between the Shell Houston Open and the upcoming Masters Tournament, a lot of people have golfing on their mind. While you may not play golf like the pros, it’s possible to get injured like them. It’s called medial epicondylitis, commonly referred to as “golfer’s elbow” or “tennis elbow.”

“If you follow golf closely, you may remember that Tiger Woods developed medial epicondylitis a few years ago.  It is a very common injury where the tendon in the elbow becomes inflamed, and scar tissue develops, causing pain,” says James Gregory, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute-Memorial City and Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

Dr. Gregory offers these tips for proper stretching and strengthening the forearm muscles to help prevent golfer’s elbow.

Most importantly, he says don’t play through the pain.  “Playing through the pain can make it worse,” adds Dr. Gregory.  “Once pain starts to develop, take a break. “

He also advises to consult with a golf professional to see if grip position or size might be a factor.

“If the pain persists, it’s time to see a doctor. Treatment options can range from anti-inflammatory medications and home exercises, to corticosteroid injections and physical therapy,” says Dr. Gregory.

In certain cases, Dr. Gregory says patients can consider a treatment called PRP, or platelet-rich plasma. Platelets are part of the blood that contains hundred of proteins called growth factors, which are important in the healing of injuries.  Blood is drawn from the patient and the platelets are separated, concentrated, and then injected back into the patient.

“There’s still a lot of research being done of the effectiveness of PRP, so we don’t suggest it for every patient. However, for those with persisting pain, it is something to consider,” says Dr. Gregory. “We want to offer every option we can to avoid surgery. Surgery is a last resort and is only appropriate for about 5 to 10 percent of cases.”

The Center for Advanced Orthopedics at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center is a dedicated orthopedic facility designed to provide patients with exceptional clinical care in a comfortable, focused environment. The Memorial Hermann Center for Advanced Orthopedics is the surgical home for patients of the Memorial Hermann Joint Center and IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial City. Affiliated physicians specialize in treatment of bone, joint and soft tissue issues of the knee, hip, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow and hand.

Learn more about the IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial City and the Center for Advanced Orthopedics at Memorial Hermann Memorial City.

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