I've just recovered from a bout of golfer's elbow (pain on the inside knob of the elbow, whereas tennis elbow is on the outside knob). Biokineticist's exercises, platelet injections and sports physician's advice did nothing. After much despondency and expense, and no climbing for 6 weeks I started the eccentric exercises described here:http://www.athlon.com.au/articles/r&i_dodgyelbow.pdf
They worked amazingly well.
I found researching eccentric tendon exercise theory very helpful (most of it is about Achilles' tendon injuries but the same theory can be applied to forearm tendons). This is good:http://www.mc.uky.edu/athletic_training/docs/nzsmsc-2010/Eccentric_Training_Spring2011.pdf
The ideas I found useful:
1. Muscles get stronger more quickly than tendons, partly because they have better blood flow
2. When training hard, strengthening muscles can strain slower-developing tendons
3. Eccentric exercises are designed to stress the tendons without activating the muscles that caused the injury
4. In the case of forearms this is done by slowly lowering a weight, resisting gravity. The exact motion depends on which tendon is hurt.
5. Slowly increasing the intensity of the tendon stress over weeks makes them stronger. Eventually they'll match or exceed the muscle strength
6. Do lots of stretching before eccentric exercises
7. Expect the tendon to be sore while eccentrically exercising, but it shouldn't be sore afterwards
8. I was surprised at how much weight I used. 5kg with a lever of 10 to 20cm from my hand for the wrist rotating exercise. 10kg for the wrist extension exercise. Importantly the weight is built up over time, and how much weight is not a competition.
9. It was very helpful to study good anatomical drawings of the forearm to figure out exactly where it was sore, which muscle caused the injury, and what movements made it worse
10. I’ve been told the treatment for acute injuries (where a sudden shock causes tendon damage) is different to progressive injury treatment like mine (where damage occurs incrementally over time)
11. It’s important to do other antagonistic muscle exercises as well, to make sure you don’t get another injury when you start climbing again. Push ups are great for shoulders and sore elbows. Emphasise good form with your elbows tucked in close to your torso. Do them slowly and don’t lower all the way down if your core is sagging through. Shoulder stretches and the usual arsenal of shoulder exercises for climbers also help
12. When you start climbing and training again avoid crimps like the plague. Open hand everything
13. It is helpful to get as many opinions as possible, but be sceptical and filter everything with what you’re actually experiencing. I don’t think many medics understand the stress we put our forearms and fingers through. They’ll say stuff like “you can climb, but just don’t pull hard with your elbow.” Seriously?
I started easing back into climbing after 6 weeks, but if I’d started the exercises earlier this would have been way sooner. It took about two weeks of exercises before I noticed an appreciable difference in pain while climbing. After that it got better quickly. Its four months now and my elbow’s still slightly sore, but it’s not affecting my climbing anymore.