Medial Epicondylitis

Overview

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

SymptomsandDiagnosis

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:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scan

Treatments

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

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Golfer's Elbow)

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.