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Massage Today
November, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 11

Golfer's Elbow

By Ben Benjamin, PhD

Question: The term "golfer's elbow" refers to a strain of what muscle-tendon unit?

Answer: Flexor carpi radialis.To locate this structure, squeeze your elbows into the sides of your body, pressing as hard as you can.

The bone you feel squeezing against your ribs is the medial epicondyle of the humerus. The flexor carpi radialis tendon is attached to the medial aspect of this epicondyle. Strain of the flexor carpi radialis is most frequent right at the tendon's attachment, known as the tenoperiosteal junction. Referred pain is minimal in the elbow, so if pain is felt beyond the tenoperiosteal junction and into the forearm, the tendon body and the muscle belly likely are to be injured as well.

Dr. Ben Benjamin and assistant demonstrate resisted flexion test. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark As suggested by the term "golfer's elbow," the flexor carpi radialis can be strained by swinging a golf club - particularly when a person overuses the wrist or uses too strong a grip. However, golfers constitute only a small segment of the population suffering from this condition. Bikers, movers, tennis players, guitarists, pianists, violinists and people who work out with weights frequently develop golfer's elbow. This injury also is very common in computer users and frequently is a part of the complex picture in repetitive stress injuries.

The test used to verify the presence of golfer's elbow is resisted flexion of the wrist. To perform this test, ask the client to extend their arm toward you and bring the hand down into a flexed position. Place one hand on top of the client's wrist to stabilize it and wrap your other hand around the client's palm. Ask the client to resist as you pull with equal force, trying to straighten the hand. If there is pain or discomfort on this test, golfer's elbow is present.

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