Handball goalie's elbow

A handball goalie's elbow is a syndrome that will affect three out of four handball goalies at some point in their career.

When the ball hits the goalie with an outstretched arm, this hit can in the worst case lead to a hyperextension of the elbow and cause an injury to the ligaments in the elbow joint. This type of an elbow injury is most likely to happen when the goalie is unprepared for a shot and does not manage to properly contract his/her muscles to protect the elbow. Volleyball players can also get exposed to such an injury after blocking a ball with an outstretched arm.

Signs and symptoms

The most common symptoms are pain and discomfort, reduced arm strength, and numbness spreading towards the little finger. Also, swelling in the elbow will lead to reduced mobility, and the elbow is locking up. Pain can be perceived in several places in the wrist: the underside, the topside, and within the joint itself.


Most people will benefit from systematic strength training of the shoulder, elbow and wrist. Many will also profit from using an elbow brace, splint, or tape.


The diagnosis is made following a clinical examination by a doctor or physiotherapist. In some cases, it may be necessary to have an MRI examination. In other situations, an arthroscopic examination might be required, meaning a very thin magnifying glass attached to a camera will be inserted into the joint and be used to assess the joint from inside.


The earlier the athlete starts rehabilitation, the better the prognosis for full recovery. If on the other hand, the symptoms are ignored, or the athlete returns to sport too early without sufficient rehabilitation, there is a high risk of developing chronic pain