Golfer’s Elbow: How Physical Therapy Can Get You Back on the Course

golfer's elbow physical therapy

Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is a common condition that plagues golf enthusiasts and can be a real hindrance. The good news? Physical therapy offers a pathway to recovery, allowing you to swing, putt, and chip with confidence once again. In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of golfer’s elbow, how it affects you, and most importantly, how physical therapy can help you get back up, pain-free.

Golfer’s elbow, medically known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in your forearm, specifically those around the bony bump on the inner side of your elbow (medial epicondyle). Despite its name, golfer’s elbow is not exclusive to golfers. It can affect anyone who repeatedly uses their wrist and fingers, leading to overuse and strain on the tendons.

What is Golfer’s Elbow?

The primary cause of golfer’s elbow is the repetitive gripping, swinging, or lifting of objects, which places stress on the tendons and causes small tears or inflammation. This condition typically results in pain and discomfort on the inner side of the elbow and can sometimes radiate down the forearm, further causing harm.

Common symptoms of golfer’s elbow include:

  1. Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow.
  2. Weakened grip strength.
  3. Stiffness in the elbow and forearm.
  4. Worsening pain with gripping or lifting objects.
  5. Pain that may radiate to the wrist.

While golfer’s elbow is often associated with golf, it can also be caused by other activities like tennis, weightlifting, and repetitive hand tool use. Proper diagnosis and treatment, often involving physical therapy, can help alleviate pain, restore function, and prevent the condition from worsening.

Exercises to Relieve Golfer’s Elbow Pain

Exercises to relieve golfer’s elbow pain focus on strengthening and stretching the muscles and tendons in your forearm and improving the stability of your elbow joint.

Wrist Flexor Stretch

Wrist Flexor Stretch

    • Extend your affected arm straight out in front of you with your palm facing down.
    • Use your opposite hand to gently bend your wrist backward, so your fingers point slightly upward.
    • Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds.
    • Repeat 2-3 times on each arm.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

Wrist Extensor Stretch

    • Extend your affected arm straight out in front of you with your palm facing up.
    • Use your opposite hand to gently bend your wrist downward, so your fingers point toward the floor.
    • Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds.
    • Repeat 2-3 times on each arm.

Flexor Strengthening


    • Sit or stand with your affected forearm resting on a table or your thigh, palm facing up, and your hand over the edge.
    • Hold a light dumbbell or a can of soup in your hand.
    • Slowly bend your wrist upward, lifting the weight, and then lower it back down.
    • Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.

Extensor Strengthening

    • Sit or stand with your affected forearm resting on a table or your thigh, palm facing down, and your hand over the edge.
    • Hold a light dumbbell or a can of soup in your hand.
    • Slowly bend your wrist upward, lifting the weight, and then lower it back down.
    • Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.

Pronation and Supination Exercise

      • Hold a small hammer or a similar object in your hand with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle and your forearm parallel to the ground.
      • Rotate your forearm, turning your palm up (supination) and then down (pronation).
      • Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.

Isometric Wrist Flexion and Extension

    • Place your affected forearm on a table with your wrist hanging off the edge.
    • Press the back of your hand down into the table, engaging the wrist flexors, and hold for 5-10 seconds.
    • Flip your forearm over so that your palm is facing down, and press the palm into the table to engage the wrist extensors, holding for 5-10 seconds.
    • Perform 2-3 sets of each exercise.

Remember to start with light resistance and gradually increase it as your strength improves. Perform these exercises regularly, but stop immediately if you experience increased pain or discomfort. If your golfer’s elbow symptoms persist or worsen, then consult a healthcare provider or physical therapist for further evaluation and guidance on appropriate exercises.

When To Seek Medical Attention

Seeking medical attention for golfer’s elbow is essential, especially if you experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Severe or Prolonged Pain: If you have intense or persistent pain in your elbow that doesn’t improve with rest and over-the-counter pain medications, then it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider.
  • Weakened Grip Strength: A noticeable reduction in your ability to grip or hold objects due to pain or weakness in the affected arm may indicate a more severe issue.
  • Swelling or Visible Deformity: If your elbow becomes visibly swollen, deformed, or exhibits signs of infection (redness, warmth), it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention, as this could indicate a more significant injury or complication.
  • Numbness or Tingling: If you experience numbness, tingling, or radiating pain down your forearm or into your hand, it may suggest nerve involvement, which requires evaluation by a healthcare professional.
  • Limited Range of Motion: If your elbow’s range of motion is significantly restricted, making it challenging to perform everyday activities, it’s advisable to consult a doctor.
  • Recurrent or Chronic Pain: If you’ve had golfer’s elbow before, and the pain returns or becomes chronic, a medical assessment is necessary to determine the best course of action for managing the condition.
  • Persistent Symptoms: If your symptoms persist or worsen over time, despite rest and conservative treatments like ice, compression, and over-the-counter pain relievers, it’s time to see a healthcare provider.

Remember that early diagnosis and appropriate management can help prevent the worsening of golfer’s elbow, further reduce pain, and improve your chances of a full recovery. A healthcare provider can provide an accurate diagnosis, recommend tailored treatments, and guide you in exercises and physical therapy to regain strength and function in your elbow.

Effective Treatments For Golfer’s Elbow Pain

Effective Treatments For Golfer's Elbow Pain

Effective treatments for golfer’s elbow pain focus on reducing pain and inflammation, promoting healing, and preventing further injury. Here are some common treatments and strategies:

  • Rest: Give your affected arm and elbow adequate rest. Avoid activities that worsen the pain, especially those that involve gripping, twisting, or repetitive wrist and forearm movements.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth for about 15-20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression: Wearing an elbow brace or band can provide support and compression to the affected tendons, further reducing strain and pain.
  • Elevation: Elevate your arm whenever possible, especially at night while sleeping, to minimize swelling.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Always follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult a healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can create a tailored exercise program to strengthen and stretch the forearm muscles, improve joint stability, and promote healing. They may also use techniques like ultrasound or electrical stimulation in case if it’s required.
  • Wrist and Forearm Bracing: Your healthcare provider may recommend wearing a wrist and forearm brace to reduce strain on the affected tendons and further promote healing.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend corticosteroid injections into the affected area to reduce inflammation and pain. These are typically reserved for more severe cases and are not a long-term solution.
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: PRP therapy involves injecting a concentrated solution of your own platelets into the affected area to stimulate healing. It’s a newer approach that’s being explored as a treatment option.
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT): ESWT is a non-invasive procedure that uses shock waves to stimulate healing in the affected tendons.
  • Surgery (In Rare Cases): Surgery is typically considered a last resort when other treatments have failed to provide relief. Surgical options may include tendon repair or debridement.

It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your specific condition.

Physical Therapy for Golfer’s Elbow

Physical therapy can be highly effective in treating golfer’s elbow.  It’s a condition characterized by pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow. Here are some common physical therapy approaches used to manage golfer’s elbow:

1. Assessment and Diagnosis: The first step in physical therapy is a thorough assessment of your condition. A physical therapist will evaluate your elbow, forearm, and wrist to determine the extent of the injury. And also any contributing factors.

2. Pain Management: Initially, the focus may be on pain management. Your therapist may use modalities such as ice, heat, or ultrasound to alleviate pain.

3. Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques, such as massage, soft tissue mobilization, and joint mobilizations, can help relieve muscle tightness and improve joint mobility in the forearm, wrist, and elbow.

4. Stretching: Specific stretching exercises are prescribed to improve flexibility in the forearm and wrist. These stretches help reduce tension in the tendons and muscles. And as a result, you feel relaxed.

5. Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening exercises target the muscles of the forearm and wrist. Initially, these exercises may focus on gentle isometric contractions to avoid further irritation. As your condition improves, resistance exercises are introduced.

6. Eccentric Exercises: Eccentric exercises involve controlled lengthening of the affected forearm muscles, which can help stimulate healing and improve tendon function.

7. Neuromuscular Re-education: Your therapist may guide you through exercises to improve neuromuscular control and coordination, which can help prevent future episodes of golfer’s elbow.

8. Activity Modification: Your therapist will work with you to identify and modify activities or movements that may exacerbate your condition. This can include adjusting your golf swing or changing your workplace ergonomics.

9. Bracing and Taping: Depending on your condition, your therapist may recommend using a brace or tape to support and protect the affected area during activities that could aggravate your symptoms.

10. Education: Understanding your condition is essential for long-term management. Your therapist will educate you on proper techniques, ergonomics, and strategies to prevent recurrence. However, it’s on the individual how to take it forward.

11. Gradual Return to Activity: Once your symptoms have improved, your therapist will guide you through a gradual return to activities like golf or sports. This may involve a structured plan to prevent overuse and reinjury.

12. Home Exercise Program: Similarly, to maintain progress and prevent recurrence, your therapist will provide you with a customized home exercise program so as to continue strengthening and stretching exercises independently.

Physical therapy for golfer’s elbow is typically a conservative and effective approach to managing this condition. The duration and frequency of sessions will vary based on the severity of condition and response to treatment. It’s essential to follow your therapist’s guidance and be consistent with your exercises and modifications to achieve the best results. Otherwise, it can cause big complications.


Golfer’s elbow can be a challenging condition, but with the right physical therapy and diligent self-care, you can find relief from pain and regain strength and flexibility in your elbow, forearm, and wrist. Remember to follow your therapist’s recommendations, practice good ergonomics, and gradually reintroduce activities to prevent future issues. With commitment and patience, you can get back to enjoying your favorite sports and daily routines without the hindrance.

If you’re experiencing Shoulder pain, physical therapy for shoulder pain at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.