Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

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Despite its name, Golfer’s Elbow affects more than simply those who play golf. Medically referred to as medial epicondylitis, Golfer’s Elbow is a painful condition caused by repetitive muscle contractions in the forearm. Typically, those who experience medial epicondylitis exhibit inflammation and microtears in the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle (bony prominence of the elbow).

At OrthoAspen, we have a team of orthopedic specialists and subspecialists who are experts at treating varying degrees of Golfer’s Elbow—safely and effectively—enabling you to return to the activities you love.

golfer's elbow, medial epicondylitis

Causes & Symptoms

Golfer’s Elbow is similar to Tennis Elbow, but differs slightly in that Golfer’s Elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow, whereas the latter occurs on the outside of the elbow. Both conditions are a type of tendonitis which literally means “inflammation of the tendons.”

Golfer’s Elbow typically results from overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that control wrist and finger movement. Therefore, the condition is often seen in those who:

  • Play golf, tennis and racquetball
  • Engage in baseball, football and other sports that require a throwing motion
  • Repeatedly twist the wrist or repeat motions:
    • Painting
    • Hammering
    • Typing
    • Raking
    • Gardening
    • Shoveling
    • Fencing
    • Plumbing
    • Cooking
    • Construction

Signs and symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow include:

  • Elbow pain that is sudden or gradual
  • Pain and aches on the inner side of the elbow during activity
  • Sensations of stiffness in the elbow with a decreased range of motion
  • Pain that radiates to the inner forearm, hand or wrist
  • A grip that feels weak and/or painful
  • Pain that is exacerbated in the elbow when the wrist is flexed or bent forward toward the forearm
Diagnosis

Whenever possible, our OrthoAspen physicians strive to implement conservative treatment methods. Golfer’s Elbow should be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist for proper diagnosis and to determine the safest, most effective treatment protocol.

Your OrthoAspen doctor will go over your past medical history, discuss your current health status and perform a physical examination. Diagnostic tests such as X-rays may be ordered to rule out a fracture or arthritis as the cause of pain.

Occasionally, if the diagnosis is unclear, your physician may order further tests to confirm Golfer’s Elbow such as MRI, ultrasonography and injection test.

Treatment

If Golfer’s Elbow is diagnosed, conservative treatment options include:

  • Activity Restrictions
    Limited use of the arm, accompanied by rest from activities that worsen symptoms.
  • Orthotics
    Splints or braces may be ordered to decrease stress on the injured tissues.
  • Ice
    Ice packs can be applied to the injury to help diminish swelling and pain. Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 20 minutes, four times a day, for a couple of days and should never be placed directly over the skin.
  • Medications
    Anti-inflammatory medications and/or steroid injections may be ordered to address pain and swelling.
  • Occupational Therapy
    OT may be ordered for strengthening and stretching exercises to the forearm once symptoms have decreased.
  • Pulsed Ultrasound
    Pulsed Ultrasound is a non-invasive treatment used by therapists to break up scar tissue and increase blood flow to the injured tendons.
  • Professional Instruction
    Consulting with a sports professional to assess and instruct in proper swing technique and appropriate equipment may be recommended to prevent recurrence.

If conservative treatment options fail to resolve Golfer’s Elbow and symptoms persist for six to 12 months, your OrthoAspen physician may recommend surgery.

The goal of surgery to treat Golfer’s Elbow is to remove the diseased tissue around the inner elbow, improve blood supply to the area to promote healing and alleviate uncomfortable and painful symptoms.

No matter what treatment method is recommended to treat Golfer’s Elbow, rest assured that our OrthoAspen orthopedic specialists will do everything possible to ensure a safe, expedited treatment and recovery process.

If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms associated with medial epicondylitis, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our OrthoAspen experts.

Click here or call us at 970-544-1289.

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Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1110
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1110