Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer's Elbow) | Orthopaedics | Loyola Medicine

Medial Epicondylitis or “Golfer’s Elbow”

Overview and Facts about Medial Epicondylitis or “Golfer’s Elbow”

Medial epicondylitis, also known as “golfer’s elbow,” is an orthopaedic condition that causes pain and inflammation in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow. Pain occurs on the inside of the arm near the elbow and may spread into the forearm and wrist. Considered one of the more common orthopaedic conditions, it can affect not just golfers but anyone who performs certain repeated motions of the arm and wrist.

Signs and Symptoms of Medial Epicondylitis or “Golfer’s Elbow”

Pain along the inside of the forearm radiating from the elbow to the wrist is the most common symptom of this condition. Pain typically worsens with certain movements, such as squeezing a rubber ball or when bending the wrist toward the palm against resistance. Other symptoms may include:

  • Elbow stiffness.
  • Weakness in the hand and wrist.
  • Numbness or tingling in one or more fingers.

Causes and Risk Factors of Medial Epicondylitis or “Golfer’s Elbow”

Medial epicondylitis is caused by the excessive force used to bend the wrist toward the palm. Any repetitive flexing, gripping, or swinging can cause pulls or tiny tears in the tendons, including:

  • Carrying a heavy suitcase.
  • Chopping wood with an ax.
  • Operating a chainsaw.
  • Using hand tools.
  • Throwing a javelin.
  • Using a tennis racket that’s too tightly strung, too short, or too heavy.

Weak shoulder and wrist muscles may also lead to this condition. Additionally, people working in the following occupations are at increased risk for developing golfer’s elbow:

  • Construction workers
  • Assembly line workers
  • Plumbers
  • Painters
  • Professional athletes

Tests and Diagnosis of Medial Epicondylitis or “Golfer’s Elbow”

The symptoms of medial epicondylitis may resemble many other orthopaedic conditions. To help make the proper diagnosis, a doctor will perform a physical examination. This includes applying pressure to the affected area or moving the elbow, wrist, and fingers in various ways. An X-ray can help confirm a diagnosis and rule out other causes of elbow pain, such as arthritis or a fracture.

Treatment and Care for Medial Epicondylitis or “Golfer’s Elbow”

Treatment for golfer’s elbow begins with stopping the activity that brought on the symptoms. Other treatment options include:

  • Icing the affected area.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medicine.
  • Using a brace.
  • Performing strengthening exercises (as shown by a doctor).
  • Receiving corticosteroid injections.

Most people improve with rest, icing, and taking pain relievers. Surgery is seldom necessary.