Heading to the fairway? Read this first!

The following article was sent to YFile by Dr. Grant Lum, an adjunct professor in York’s Department of Dance in the Faculty of Fine Arts and medical director of Athletes Care in the Toronto Track & Field Centre on York’s Keele campus.

The sun is shining, the greens are ready. Looks like the long-awaited golf season is finally here. Most avid golfers agree that even with ideal weather conditions the season is too short. When a player is plagued by an injury however, the season can become even shorter.

One of the most common injuries experienced by golfers occurs to the elbow. Lateral or medial epicondylitis, also know as “tennis” or “golfer’s” elbow, frequently arises in those whose sport requires gripping some type of handle. Sports such as tennis, golf, squash, racquetball and baseball all have players who are susceptible to this type of injury.

The epicondyles are the bony prominences on the sides of the elbow where the muscles of the forearm attach to the bones of the upper arm. When the muscles or tendons at the elbow become inflamed, the following symptoms may be experienced:

  • Pain and tenderness felt over the elbow
  • Pain worsened with gripping or rotation of the forearm
  • Pain when twisting the hand

The cause of elbow tendonitis ranges from poor playing mechanics and poor fitting equipment to accumulated stress on the tissues of the forearm caused by repetitive actions. To prevent this type of injury, consider the following:

  • Take frequent rest breaks during a long game until the forearm muscles are strong and limber
  • Get lessons from a professional if you are a novice
  • Warm up slowly and completely before a game and stretch frequently throughout the game
  • Stop the activity if it causes pain

Although tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are usually associated with sports, similar symptoms are often experienced by those who perform daily repetitive tasks, such as typing, assembly line work and carpentry.

Your family physician or a sport-medicine physician should be consulted before returning to activity. Depending on the extent of the injury, treatment can include:

  • Physio or athletic therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic therapy from those offering Active Release Technique™ treatment
  • Elbow bracing

For more information, contact Athlete’s Care at ext. 55991 or visit the Athletes Care Web site.

Dr. Grant Lum

Dr. Grant Lum is accredited in family medicine and also holds a diploma in sport medicine. A kinesiologist and dance injury specialist, Dr. Lum is an adjunct professor in the York’s Department of Dance, Faculty of Fine Arts, and the medical director of Athlete’s Care on the Keele campus.

In addition, he is a lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, the team physician for Canada’s National Squash Team, a consultant for the NHL Players’ Association and a sports medicine consultant for the Artists’ Health Centre at Toronto Western Hospital. He also served as the team physician for the Toronto Phantoms Arena Football Team for their two seasons in Toronto, and as a medical reality consultant for Disney. As well, he has worked extensively with the performing arts community. For example, he was the Toronto physician for two recent Cirque du Soleil productions: Varekai and Dralion.