Golfers Elbow/Medial Epicondylitis

Golfer’s elbow, also called Medial Epicondylitis, is a painful condition occurring from repeated muscle contractions in the forearm that leads to inflammation & microtears in the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle. The medial epicondyle is the bony prominence that is felt on the inside of the elbow.

Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow are similar except that Golfer’s elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow & Tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow. Both conditions are a type of Tendonitis which literally means “inflammation of the tendons”.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs & symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow can include the following:

  • Elbow pain that appears suddenly or gradually
  • Achy pain to the inner side of the elbow during activity
  • Elbow stiffness with decreased range of motion
  • Pain may radiate to the inner forearm, hand or wrist
  • Weakened grip
  • Pain worsens with gripping objects
  • Pain is exacerbated in the elbow when the wrist is flexed or bent forward toward the forearm

Causes

Golfer’s Elbow is usually caused by overuse of the forearm muscles & tendons that control wrist & finger movement but may also be caused by direct trauma such as with a fall, car accident, or work injury.

Golfer’s elbow is commonly seen in golfers, hence the name, especially when poor technique or unsuitable equipment is used when hitting the ball. Other common causes include any activity that requires repetitive motion of the forearm such as: painting, hammering, typing, raking, pitching sports, gardening, shoveling, fencing, & playing golf.

Diagnosis

Golfer’s Elbow should be evaluated by an Orthopaedic specialist for proper diagnosis & treatment.

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Your physician may order an x-ray to rule out a fracture or arthritis as the cause of your pain.
  • Occasionally, if the diagnosis is unclear, your physician may order further tests to confirm golfer’s elbow such as MRI, ultrasonography, & injection test

Conservative Treatment Options

Your physician will recommend conservative treatment options to treat the symptoms associated with Golfer’s Elbow. These may include the following:

  • Activity Restrictions: Limit use & rest the arm from activities that worsen symptoms
  • Orthotics: Splints or braces may be ordered to decrease stress on the injured tissues
  • Ice: Ice packs applied to the injury will help diminish swelling & pain. Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 20 minutes four times a day for a couple days. Never place ice directly over the skin
  • Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections may be ordered to treat the pain & swelling
  • Occupational Therapy: OT may be ordered for strengthening & stretching exercises to the forearm once your symptoms have decreased
  • Pulsed Ultrasound: A non-invasive treatment used by therapists to break up scar tissue & increase blood flow to the injured tendons to promote healing
  • Professional instruction: Consulting with a sports professional to assess & instruct in proper swing technique & appropriate equipment may be recommended to prevent recurrence

Surgery

If conservative treatment options fail to resolve the condition & symptoms persist for 6 -12 months, your surgeon may recommend surgery to treat Golfers elbow. The goal of surgery to treat Golfers elbow is to remove the diseased tissue around the inner elbow, improve blood supply to the area to promote healing, & alleviate the patient’s symptoms.

  • American Academy of Arthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Society For Surgery of The Hand
  • Society of The State of New York
  • Medical Society of The County of Westchester