More and more golfers are turning to chiropractic, not just to treat pain syndromes like “golfer’s elbow”, but also because they’ve heard that chiropractic could help improve their swing and their golf game. Both motivations have a lot of merit!
Repetitive Strain Injuries: Golfer’s & Tennis Elbow
Repetitive strain and overuse injuries such as “tennis elbow” and “shoulder tendonitis” are common in sports such as baseball, tennis, and swimming. These conditions are generally considered mild and acute (short-term), but if not treated properly, can easily become chronic (long-term), painful and debilitating conditions. “Golfer’s elbow” (Medial Epicondylitis) is very similar to “Tennis elbow”, with the symptoms located over the inner (medial) part of the elbow. Both of these conditions are in fact quite common in the game of golf. A right-handed golfer, for example, may suffer from “tennis elbow” in the leading left arm and “golfers elbow” in the following right arm.
Most players complain of medial (inner) elbow pain following repetitive activities such as hammering or turning a screwdriver. In athletes, the inciting activity usually involves wrist flexion and pronation – such as in serving or hitting a forehand in tennis. Golfing or throwing may also produce these symptoms in the force-generating arm. Many athletes also complain of weakness and reduced strength when gripping a racquet or club, hindering their performance.
Treatments should focus on reducing pain and inflammation during the acute stage (approx. 48 hours). This involves rest and ice to the affected area and avoiding movements that trigger pain. Once past the inflammatory stage of the injury, apply local heat and heat retainer to the injured area. Follow this by alternating ice massage and local heat to the affected area. This will promote healing of the soft tissues. Active and passive stretching and strengthening techniques as well as soft tissue therapy should be given by your chiropractor and should form a part of the rehabilitative process. Taping and bracing can also help prevent a relapse of the injury upon returning to play.
Chiropractic Can Help!
Chiropractic can not only help in the treatment of injuries such as “golfer’s” and “tennis” elbow, but can identify those athletes who are susceptible and help prevent these types of injuries. Repetitive strain injuries are often related to repeated micro-trauma and overuse, however, some athletes are at more risk than others. Studies have shown that individuals who have irritation to nerves that supply the muscles and tendons involved in repetitive strain injuries are considerably more susceptible to these conditions than those who do not. Nerve damage and irritation at various levels, including the spinal level, have been identified as the underlying cause for some repetitive strain injuries. Chiropractic can help treat and prevent these injuries by removing spinal subluxations (misalignments) or adhesions (scar tissue) in the muscles that may be causing pressure, irritation, or interference in the delicate nervous system.
If you feel you may be suffering from “golfer’s” or “tennis” elbow or any other repetitive strain injury, contact your chiropractor for an examination to find out if chiropractic could help you or your game!
Dr. Dean MacDonald, D.C.
Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre