Medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)

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What is medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, is an inflammation of the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow, called the medial epicondyle. Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, which occurs on the outside of the elbow. Despite its nickname, medial epicondylitis affects more than just golfers. People who play baseball, football or other throwing sports, do a lot of weight training, or perform activities that involve repeated twisting of the wrist, are also at risk.

What causes medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis is an overuse injury caused by excessive force used to bend the wrist toward the palm. Activities such as swinging a golf club, pitching a baseball, throwing a javelin, carrying a heavy suitcase, operating a chainsaw or frequent use of hand tools can cause the condition.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms typically include pain and tenderness from the inside of the elbow to the wrist that worsens with certain movements such as bending the wrist toward the palm or squeezing a ball. You may also feel elbow stiffness, weakness in the hands and wrists, or numbness and tingling in the fingers.

How is medial epicondylitis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete physical exam and patient history, your doctor may order an X-ray, and sometimes an MRI, to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other medical problems in your hand, arm or neck. The symptoms of golfer’s elbow mimic many conditions, so it’s important to consult a qualified physician for an accurate diagnosis.

What is the treatment?

Most cases of medial epicondylitis respond to non-operative treatment including rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. A wrist sprint or elbow strap may also help. If the pain persists, steroid injections or PRP therapy may provide relief. If these measures fail to alleviate your symptoms, surgery may be necessary. This involves releasing a portion of the tendon from the bone, removing the inflamed tendon or repairing tendon tears. Many procedures are performed arthroscopically with numerous benefits to the patient including tiny incisions, less pain and blood loss, and a quicker return to work and activities.