Medial Epicondylitis/Golfer's Elbow

Golfer’s Elbow Edina Medial Epicondylitis Minneapolis | St. Cloud    Blaine, Plymouth | Sports and Orthopaedic SpecialistsView this information in PDF format 

Also known as golfer’s elbow, medial epicondylitis is a condition where the tendon on the inside of the elbow becomes inflamed and painful. This tendon attaches the muscles of the forearm to the inner bony bump on the elbow (medial epicondyle).

Symptoms

Golfer’s elbow most often occurs in the dominant arm. Pain along the inner side of the elbow (the side that touches your body) that may radiate down your forearm is common. Repetitive movements of the wrist and elbow usually make the pain worse. The forearm may be weak and it may be harder to participate in sports activities that require arm strength. Finally, the pain can begin suddenly, but it can also appear gradually over time.

Causes

The repetitive motions of the wrist during golfing can cause injury to the inner tendon of the elbow leading to inflammation and pain. In addition to golf, golfer’s elbow can be caused by any activity that involves repetitive use of the wrist and forearm muscles. Participating in throwing sports, being a musician, or being a painter can increase the risk for golfer’s elbow.

Treatment

Stretching and icing are the ideal forms of treatment. The best form of icing includes ice massage. To do this, freeze water in a Dixie cup. After frozen, tear a small bit of paper from the top and begin small circular motions around the area of pain. Continue this for 10 minutes, 3 times a day.  Treatment can include rest from work and sports or a change in the technique used during work and sports.  Some health care providers may prescribe a tennis elbow strap. Pain relievers can be used to lessen symptoms and reduce inflammation.  Injections into the tendon are generally not used unless the pain persists after other treatments.In more advanced cases where conservative care has not eliminated the pain, surgical intervention may be required.

Returning to Sport or Activity

The goal for treating golfer’s elbow is a pain-free return to the sport or activity. It is sometimes possible to continue with work or sports during treatment if activities that aggravate the injury are avoided.  When it is not possible to continue work or sports, treatment including rest, ice, and physical therapy is used to stop the symptoms of Golfer’s elbow. Most people respond well to treatment and can begin a slow progression back into work or sports as soon as the pain is gone.

Materials adapted from Up To Date and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases