Golfers Elbow Causes

What causes golfers elbow and how to prevent it.

Golfers elbow can be a frustrating condition. It often begins as a mild pain around the inside of the elbow but without treatment or changes in movement, it can become much worse. 

If you use your hands on a daily basis, the pain can grow more persistent and radiate down the forearm to the wrist and hand. Although it sounds like the condition is most common among athletes, golfers elbow is actually most common among people who use their hands regularly. 

This article will outline more details about what causes golfers elbow, what exacerbates the condition, and how to prevent it.

What is Golfer’s Elbow (medial epicondylitis)?

Golfer’s elbow – known as medial epicondylitis – is a condition that results in pain on the inside of the elbow joint typically caused by overuse.

People who are putting great pressure or stress on the muscles and tissues in their elbow, wrist, and forearm develop golfer’s elbow as their tendons become strained and inflamed. [1]

The pain can radiate down the forearm to the wrist and can also feel like soreness and stiffness. 

Doctors say that the golfer’s elbow is a degenerative condition.

It’s not caused by inflammation, but the strain placed on the tissue from overuse leads to tears that – if not given time to heal – can get worse or become chronic. [2]

Elbow Anatomy

The elbow has three bones around it – the radius, humerus, and ulna.

These bones are protected by muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

When extra pressure or stress is put on the forearm and elbow, these tissues can become strained, leading to inflammation, redness, and swelling of the elbow joint. 

Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow

There are several key symptoms of golfer’s elbow to keep in mind if you are trying to diagnose your pain or condition.

Symptoms of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Pain and tenderness around the inside of the elbow - Often the pain radiates down the forearm to the wrist and hand.


  • Stiffness or soreness around the elbow joint - Many people report stiffness when they try to bend their arm which can become worse. 

  • Weakness gripping or holding - Another common symptom of tennis or golfer’s elbow is weakness or difficulty gripping things like a cup or doorknob. The strained ligaments can become so sore that patients struggle to make fist. [3]

These are just some of the symptoms people report experiencing.

What is the Cause of Golfer’s Elbow?

The cause of golfer’s elbow is repetitive motions over extended periods of time that put great stress or pressure on the wrist and forearm.

For manual laborers, using tools on a regular basis like a hammer or screwdriver can put a lot of stress on the tendons in your forearm and wrist, leading to inflammation.

Without time to heal, the pain and swelling can get worse. 

Similarly, athletes who use a golf club, tennis racquet, baseball bat, or other hand weights can develop golfer’s elbow if they overextend their wrist and forearm – typically due to bad form.

Activities that can cause golfer’s elbow:

  • Carpentry 

  • Plumbing 

  • Cooking and chopping

  • Typing

  • Gardening

  • Sewing 

  • Playing an instrument 

  • Painting

Manual activity that requires hand tools can often lead to golfer’s elbow as people put great stress or strain on their hands and wrists while completing these tasks, causing tendons to become inflamed from overuse. 

Sports that can cause golfer’s elbow:

  • Golf 

  • Tennis or other racquet sports

  • Baseball 

  • Weightlifting

  • Rowing

In all of the above sports, poor form is typically to blame for developing golfer’s elbow. [4]

Using equipment that is too big, too small, or too heavy can also contribute to golfer’s elbow. 

For athletes who swing a bat, racquet, or club and struggle with pain, a physical therapist can help correct your form or adjust your movement or determine if you’re using the wrong equipment.

How to Prevent Golfer’s Elbow

There are a wide range of treatments to help reduce pain from golfer’s elbow.

Icing and giving your muscles a rest is the treatment you should use immediately to help reduce pain.

Ice helps reduce inflammation and rest helps the torn tendons heal.

Heat can also be helpful if your pain is more chronic as it helps muscles relax and heal. 

Often, manual laborers can’t avoid using their hands, but they can find alternative movements or ways to reduce the pressure they are placing on their wrist and forearm.

Continual movement is the biggest contributor to golfer’s elbow so make sure to take breaks. 

In addition to ice and rest, physical therapists also recommend stretches and weighted exercises to help reduce pain and speed up recovery from golfer’s elbow.

Strengthening your muscles helps them withstand the pressure of daily use.

Read more about how to treat golfer’s elbow and help accelerate your recovery. 

If you ice, stretch, and rest your elbow and your pain still does not improve, you should consider seeing a doctor and getting an X-ray.

This will help identify what is causing the pain and if you need surgery or treatment to address more serious damage like arthritis or a damaged tendon. [5]


This article outlined the causes of golfer’s elbow, including the activities that can contribute to the condition and how to prevent more serious and persistent pain.