You'll probably start by seeing your primary care physician. If you don't improve with rest, ice and over-the-counter medications, your doctor may refer you to a sports medicine specialist or to a doctor with advanced training in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- List any symptoms you've been having, and for how long.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions with which you've been diagnosed and all medications and supplements you're taking.
- Log your typical daily activity, including the length and intensity of sports or other activities that tax your elbow. Your doctor also will be interested to know if you've recently changed the frequency, intensity or method of your workouts.
- Note any recent injuries that may have damaged your elbow.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
Below are some basic questions to ask a doctor who is examining you for possible golfer's elbow. If any additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.
- What is the most likely cause of my signs and symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- Do I need any tests to confirm the diagnosis?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- With treatment, will I eventually be able to resume the sport or activity that caused my elbow problems?
- How long will I need to avoid the sport or activity that caused my elbow problems?
- What kind of exercise routine can I safely follow while I'm healing?
- What is the likelihood that I will need surgery?
- How often will you see me to monitor my progress?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms and when did you first notice them?
- Is your pain constant? Is it severe?
- Do common tasks that use your elbow — such as lifting, gripping, carrying, typing or shaking hands — trigger pain?
- Are your symptoms affecting your ability to complete normal, daily tasks, including work or sleep?
- What is your regular exercise or sports-training routine?
- Have you recently made any changes to your training routine or equipment, such as using new techniques or a new racket?
- What activities do you perform at work?
- What are your most common recreational activities or hobbies?
- Have you tried any at-home treatments so far? If so, has anything helped?
- Have you recently had any injuries that may have caused elbow damage?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
What you can do in the meantime
In the time leading up to your appointment, try self-care measures at home. Until your doctor sees you, avoid using your elbow in ways that cause or worsen pain. Icing the affected area and taking over-the-counter pain medications also may help.
Oct. 09, 2012
- Jayanthi N. Epicondylitis (tennis and golf elbow). http://www.uptodate.com/ index. Accessed Aug. 23, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al, eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Aug. 23, 2012.
- Van Hofwegen C, et al. Epicondylitis in the athlete's elbow. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2010;29:577.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. 51st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed Aug. 23, 2012.
- Shiri R, et al. Lateral and medial epicondylitis: Role of occupational factors. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 2011;25:43.
- Walker-Bone K, et al. Occupation and epicondylitis: A population-based study. Rheumatology. 2012;51:305
- Walz DM, et al. Epicondylitis: Pathogenesis, imaging, and treatment. RadioGraphics. 2010;30:167.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 28, 2012.
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