Medial epicondylitis, also commonly referred to as golfer’s elbow, causes pain and inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow. The discomfort is primarily centered on the bony bump on the inside of the elbow, called the medial epicondyle, and may extend into the forearm and wrist.
Medial epicondylitis involves the flexor muscles that control the bending of the wrist and fingers, as well as the flexor tendons that attach the muscles to the medial epicondyle. Golfer’s elbow is usually caused by the overuse and overexertion of the muscles in the forearm that are used to grip, flex the wrist and rotate the arm. It typically affects people over the age of 35. Any repetitive hand, wrist or forearm movements can cause tiny tears in the tendons, leading to this condition. Common causes of medial epicondylitis are the swinging of golf clubs, throwing sports (football and baseball), weight lifting, tennis, and bowling. Certain occupations also increase a person’s risk. Golfer’s elbow is commonly found among occupations that involve performing repetitive activities for more than two hours daily, such as carpentry, painting, and computer usage.
Symptoms include pain on the inside of the elbow, stiffness in the elbow, weakness in the wrist and hands. Diagnosis is done through physical examination and oral history. X-rays and MRIs are used to rule out other potential problems. Treatment includes rest, icing the affected area, the use of a brace, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections and strength and stretching exercises. Surgery is generally unnecessary; however, it is used when conservative treatment options fail.