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Osteopathy Case Study- Golfers Elbow

Sometimes just being told what something is or what it does doesn’t really help you understand what it can do for you, which is why we are going to do this series of posts for each therapy. We will take a case we have dealt with and describe the process of treatment and the progress of the patient so that hopefully you get an idea of how we treat and how it could help you or someone you know. Please note though that no personal details or information that may identify a patient will be given to maintain client confidentiality.

In early 2012, a  54 year old male office worker came in complaining of right shoulder and elbow pain which came on gradually over a period of 7 weeks. The pain was on the inside of the elbow just off of the bony part (the medial epicondyle) and was very tender to touch. There was also pain in the muscles of the shoulder blade.

Leading up to this point, this gentleman had been increasing the amount of golf he had been playing due to a spell of warmer and drier weather.

After assessing his ranges of movement throughout the body it was clear that years of working in a seated position and lack of stretching had taken its toll on the back. There was virtually no rotation through the spine as well as forward bending which was made worse by very tight hamstrings!

Taking into account the movements involved in playing golf it became obvious why this guy had pain in the shoulder and elbow. Golf involves huge amounts of rotation through the whole body, from feet to shoulders. In this case there was virtually no rotation throughout the spine which meant that when this golfer was taking his swings he was having to force his shoulders and arms further back which was putting an unusual strain on the tendons.

During the treatment I worked on the muscles in the arm and shoulder to help ease the pain, but focused mainly on the back; doing deep tissue massage into the muscles and mobilising the spine trying to increase the rotation. A few flexibility exercises were also advised between treatments.

After three shortly spaced treatments the pain in the shoulder was reduced from a 6/10 to a 3/10 and the elbow from a 7/10 to a 5/10. Two treatments after that and the pain had virtually disappeared from his shoulder, the forearm was continually improving and his flexibility was also improved- still not ideal but that would take months rather than weeks.

Fast forward almost one year later and our golfer is pain free and still plays golf every week with his work colleagues. He comes in once every couple of months for a check up and to also help maintain his spinal rotation. He is more serious about looking after his body, realising that he has to work to maintain the results. He does this through his own exercise programme and by working out with a personal trainer once a week.

 Final Comments

Golf can be a great sport, especially for those who need to exercise but don’t like a gym environment. It is however very one sided so imbalances in the muscular system and the spine can develop over time. It is always worth doing some form of targeted gym work to prevent these imbalances, such as free weights or cable machines.

If you are a golfer or know someone who is you should see an osteopath to help maintain your spinal rotation, assess your core stability and prevent muscular imbalances.

For more information have a look at our Osteopathy Page.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below.

Ashley