Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)

Medial epicondylitis is a condition that affects the inner side of the elbow and is commonly referred to as “golfer’s elbow’. The condition gets its name from the pain felt on the follow through arm of a golfer during a power swing. However, this does not mean that only golfers experience this conditions. Many other repetitive activities such as chopping wood, running a chainsaw and using a number of hand tools can lead to the development of medial epicondylitis. These types of activities put repetitive stress on the same forearm muscles that can cause symptoms of golfer’s elbow.

Symptoms of Golfer Elbow

Signs and symptoms of golfer’s elbow typically include:

  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow which can sometimes extend along the inside of the forearm.
  • Stiffness of the elbow which is made more painful by making a fist with the hand.
  • Weakness in the hands and wrists.
  • Numb or tingling sensations that radiate into one or more fingers (often the ring or little fingers).

Pain related to golfer’s elbow may arise suddenly or gradually over time. This pain may get worse when you:

  • Swing a golf club or racket
  • Lift weights
  • Squeeze or pitch a ball
  • Turn a doorknob
  • Flex your wrist
  • Shake hands
  • Pick up something with your palm down

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow, as discussed above, is often the result of repetitive motion that puts excessive strain on the elbow tendons. Activities that cause golfers elbow do not have to be high-level sports competition. Regular day activities like gardening, shoveling and hammering nails can all strain the flexor tendon at the elbow.

At the root of the problem is wear and tear that leads to tissue degeneration. A degenerated tendon will typically have an abnormal arrangement of collagen fibers and collagen begins to lose its strength. It becomes fragile and more prone to break, and each time the collagen breaks down, the body’s response is to form scar tissue over the tendon. This leads to the tendon becoming thickened from the excessive scar tissue.

Treating Golfer’s Elbow

The sooner you begin treatment for golfer’s elbow, the sooner you will be able to return t the normal activities that you enjoy. Medial epicondylitis can usually be effectively treating using nonsurgical methods, including:

  • Rest and ice
  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Stretching & strengthening exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Wrapping the elbow with an elastic bandage

If conservative therapies do not ease your symptoms, your doctor may recommend a cortisone injection or a series of injections to help reduce any pain or swelling. Steroid injections do not typically provide permanent relief. They do however provide short-term alleviation from painful symptoms that give patients a period of pain relief so that complementary therapies like physical therapy can be more easily carried out.

Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

If you are experiencing pain of the inner elbow or forearm, you may be suffering from golfer’s elbow. To schedule an appointment with our providers, contact an Austin pain doctor today at (512) 981-7246.