Golf and Tennis Elbow

PT Translator 1.2

Tennis Elbow is a common golf injury. It’s the injury of the ECRB muscle (short for extensor carpis radialis brevis), which is the most active forearm muscle during golf swings. Forearm muscles rotate the forearm and bend the wrists during swinging motions. They also stabilize the wrist. Here we translate two examples of jargon physical therapists might use in documenting golfer’s treatment.

Jargon The patient complained of lateral elbow pain upon wrist extension and flexion.

Translation – The outside of the patient’s forearm near the elbow hurt while (s)he bent his/her wrist. This pain could have several causes, including not just lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), but also radiculopathy, triceps tendinitis, and radial tunnel syndrome. Because of this, the therapist asks important questions about health and occupational history and takes care to note subtle differences in pain points.

JargonThe therapist determined that the patient’s symptoms were due to repeated wrist extension and forearm pronation.

Translation – Repeated wrist bending and forearm rotation injured the ECRB. The lead arm in golfers is most often afflicted with tennis elbow.

Sometimes an acute force—say, striking a tree root, getting a clubhead trapped in a rough, or a fat shot—can be singled out as a cause of injury. Otherwise, tennis elbow is the result of repeated stresses of contracting the ECRB muscle and the force at impact. This sort of repeated stress leads to muscle fatigue and microtears and is the definition of an overuse injury. Risk factors that increase chance of tennis elbow are excessive grip and poor swing mechanics.

The key to treating tennis elbow is to lay off golf for a while until symptoms such as painful gripping or shaking hands subside. The same thing goes for whatever everyday activity that connects to the pain. Self-care may also include the use of over-the-counter pain meds and gradual return to activity. The advantage of physical therapy is that it helps to fortify the entire musculoskeletal chain. That sets the patient up for better recovery and long-term fitness.