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by LaRusso L

Medial Epicondylitis

(Golfer's Elbow)

Definition

Medial epicondylitis is pain over the medial epicondyle bone on the inner side of the elbow. Another name for it is golfer's elbow.
Medial Epicondylitis
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Causes

Tendons connect muscles to bone. Repetitive or stressful movements of the muscles causes strain and pain at the tendon. The forearm muscles are active when a person grips an object tightly, such as a golf club. Doing this repeatedly can cause pain at the tendon. Other things that may cause this problem are:
  • Gripping or swinging a golf club the wrong way
  • Using the wrong model of golf clubs
  • Hitting a tennis ball incorrectly
  • Using the wrong size tennis racquet or the wrong tension of racquet strings
  • Doing certain arm motions too much, such as:
    • Golf swings
    • Tennis strokes (forehand or serve)
    • Painting
    • Raking
    • Pitching
    • Rowing
    • Using a hammer or screwdriver

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
  • Playing golf or tennis
  • Jobs that use repetitive gripping or clenching of the fingers, especially when the hand is bent up or down at the wrist
  • Muscle imbalance
  • Lack of flexibility

Symptoms

Symptoms happen slowly over time and may be:
  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow
  • Pain that may go down the forearm
  • Tight forearm muscles
  • Stiffness or trouble moving the elbow or hand
Pain may be worse when:
  • Shaking hands
  • Turning doorknobs
  • Picking up objects with the palm down
  • Hitting a forehand in tennis
  • Swinging a golf club
  • Pressing on inside of the elbow

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also be asked about your recent physical activity. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the elbow.
Images are not usually needed, but they may be done with:

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to ease pain and help with healing. Options are:
  • Supportive care, such as cold or warm compresses and avoiding activities that cause pain
  • Physical therapy to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Wearing a forearm brace to limit movement during healing
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Over the counter or prescription pain relievers
    • Corticosteroid injections to ease pain and swelling

Prevention

To lower the risk of this problem:
  • Slowly increase the intensity and duration of activity
  • Use the right techniques and equipment for sports and activities
  • Exercise regularly to keep arm muscles strong

RESOURCES

Ortho Info— American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://www.orthoinfo.org
Sports Med—American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
http://www.sportsmed.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

References

Barco R, Antuña SA. Medial elbow pain. EFORT Open Rev. 2017 Aug;2(8);362-371.
Golf injury prevention. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00137. Accessed February 1, 2021.
Medial elbow tendinoipathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/medial-elbow-tendinopathy. Accessed February 1, 2021.

Revision Information

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