by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
Medial epicondylitis is pain over the bone on the inner side of the elbow. The piece of bone that can be felt on the inner side of the elbow is called the medial epicondyle. When the tendons attached to this bone are overstretched or torn, they can become painful. This is called tendinopathy.
Medial epicondylitis is commonly called golfer's elbow, but it is not restricted to people who play golf. It can occur in tennis players and other people who repeatedly grip objects tightly.
Golfer's elbow is caused by overusing the flexor muscles of the forearms. Overusing these muscles can stretch or tear the tendons attached to the medial epicondyle.
Factors that may increase your chance of medial epicondylitis include:
You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, recent physical activity, and how the injury occurred. You may not remember the event that caused the injury because golfer's elbow pain develops over time. The doctor will examine your elbow for:
X-rays are not usually necessary. However, an x-ray may be needed if the doctor suspects other problems.
An MRI scan is occasionally used for diagnosis, but there is only limited evidence supporting this use.
Activities will need to be limited, including sports such as golf and tennis.
Regular ice application may help decrease some discomfort and swelling.
Mediations may be advised to reduce inflammation and pain:
A counter-force brace can be worn on the forearm if advised by a doctor. This brace limits the force generated by the forearm muscles when in use.
Heat can be applied to the elbow when returning to physical activity and before stretching or getting ready to play sports.
When the acute pain is gone, gentle stretching can be done as tolerated.
Strengthening exercises for the flexor muscles of the forearm will be advised.
Gradual Return to Your Sport
Begin arm motions of the sport or activity as advised. Examples include golf swings, tennis strokes, or painting strokes.
The doctor may inject cortisone into the elbow near the medial epicondyle to reduce pain and inflammation.
To help reduce your chance of medial epicondylitis:
Ortho Info— American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Sports Med—American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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