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How to Sleep with Golfer’s Elbow

by Patty Weasler, RN June 23, 2021 0 Comments

woman sleeping

If you’re dealing with golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, and experiencing pain at night, you’re not alone. This overuse injury associated with swelling and irritation of the tendons in the elbow tends to cause nagging and painful symptoms while sleeping. In this article, we will teach you how to sleep with golfer’s elbow, the best sleeping positions, and more ways you can help stop the pain at night.

Why Does Golfer’s Elbow Hurt in the Morning?

Golfer’s elbow, similar to tennis elbow and other injuries, tends to feel stiffer in the morning. When you are sleeping and not moving around (as you do during the day) muscles and tendons stiffen and blood flow decreases. Nighttime pain may also be caused by your sleeping posture, especially if you sleep of the affected arm. 

The Best Sleeping Position

The elbow symptoms of medial epicondylitis respond best to sleeping positions that allow the arm to remain straight and for optimum blood flow to the tendons that encourages the healing process. Try sleeping on your back with your affected arm straight along your side. Use positioning pillows or folded blankets to help keep your body and arm in position. Avoid applying pressure to the affected arm. This will help reduce inflammation and swelling in the elbow.

Effective Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

Positions to Avoid When Sleeping

Avoid sleeping on top of the affected arm and positioning your arm overhead. Sleeping on your affected arm will restrict blood flow and stretching your arm overhead can aggravate the sports injury. If you have a hard time remembering to keep your arm by your side try wearing a splint or brace that keeps your arm straight and serves as a gentle reminder of your position.

Tips to Improve Golfer’s Elbow at Night

Your primary goal when treating golfer’s elbow at nighttime is to boost blood circulation and loosen stiff muscles. Try these tips to improve your sleep and symptoms.

Compression

One of the best ways to avoid swelling in your arm is through compression. Elbow injuries like golfer’s elbow and its closely related tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), respond to gentle compression through arm sleeves or adjustable braces. While you sleep, an arm sleeve will be more comfortable and won’t restrict your movement.

Choosing the Best Elbow Brace

Heat

When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you should grab is a heating pad. The warmth will loosen your stiff muscles and tendons, ultimately providing better mobility and pain relief. Place the heating pad over the inside of your elbow or wrap it around your elbow for 20 to 30 minutes. Avoid sleeping with the heating pad to prevent skin burns and irritation.

Heat Therapy

Avoid Ice

There is a time and place for ice when you suffer from golfer’s elbow. The best time is the first 72 hours after your injury. An ice pack will reduce inflammation and pain. After that then it’s time to use heat, especially when you are having a hard time sleeping. Ice constricts the blood vessels, reducing blood flow. This can actually increase the healing time for golfer’s elbow.

If you have active swelling then ice is a good choice and you should avoid heat. The cold acts as an anti-inflammatory and heat would make the swelling worse.  

Massage

Gentle massage along the upper and forearm muscles will stimulate healing and reduce muscle tension. Use long strokes along the muscles working your way from your wrist up towards your shoulder. Don’t massage directly on the bone and stay away from areas that are swollen. Try massage at nighttime to prep your arm for sleep and when you wake up in the morning to loosen any stiffness.

Self Massage Tips & Techniques

Pain Cream

When golfer’s elbow causes pain and stiffness making sleep hard to get then try using pain cream before you get into bed. There are several kinds of pain creams on the market, each one works a little differently but they all have one goal, reducing pain. Rub in the cream over the inside of your elbow each night before you sleep. The pain cream won’t cure your golfer’s elbow but it will interrupt the pain signal making it easier to fall asleep.

Start Sleeping Better without Elbow Pain

Golfer’s elbow can disrupt your sleep with elbow pain and stiffness. But by adjusting your sleeping position, using heat, and other treatments you can lessen the symptoms of tendinitis, allowing you to finally get some nighttime rest. Before you begin treatment reach out to your doctor or physical therapist for medical advice and a sound treatment plan.

Sources:

https://peakperformanceclinics.com/three-tips-for-sleeping-well-with-tennis-elbow/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6754212/

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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