Golfer's elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, is an overuse injury associated with sports. Here are three things athletes need to know about this injury.

How does golfer's elbow occur?

Golfer's elbow is caused by repeated stress on the muscles and tendons around your elbow joint. This repeated stress damages the tissues and makes them swollen and sore.

As its name suggests, golfer's elbow can occur if you don't hold your golf clubs properly or if you swing too forcefully, but lots of other sports can also cause the injury. For example, tennis or badminton players may sustain this injury if they use a racket that is improperly sized or if they use improper hitting technique.

You can also sustain this injury while you're in the gym training for your next game. Lifting weights, if it's not done with proper form, can lead to injuries. For example, if you don't keep your wrists straight while you're doing a bicep exercise, you can put too much strain on your elbows and develop golfer's elbow.

What are the signs of golfer's elbow?

If you have golfer's elbow, you will feel pain within your elbow, specifically at the medial epicondyle. The medial epicondyle is the bony point at the end of your upper arm bone; many muscles and tendons are attached to this area.

The pain tends to be sharp, and it will get worse when you pick up an object or when you rotate your hands. You may also feel pain when you rest your forearms on the desk or an armrest. If you experience this pain, stop participating in sports right away and see a sports medicine doctor.

How is this injury treated?

Like other athletic injuries, golfer's elbow is first treated with a method that you are probably already familiar with, the RICE method. Your doctor will tell you to rest your sore elbow, ice the area, protect your elbow with a splint or tape, and keep your elbow elevated.

If the RICE method is not enough, you may also need to have physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to help your elbow heal while also strengthening the area and maintaining your range of motion. If your doctor gives you exercises to do at home between your physiotherapy sessions, make sure you do them, as compliance is essential for good results.

Your doctor will tell you when it's safe for you to resume sports. This timeline is hard to predict, but be patient and don't jump back into sports before you get your doctor's approval.

If you think you have golfer's elbow, see a sports medicine doctor right away.