An Overview of Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
Medial epicondylitis, more commonly known as golfer’s elbow, is an elbow condition caused by overuse of the flexor and pronator tendons on the inside of the elbow joint. Very similar to tennis elbow, this condition requires a team approach of physical therapists and elbow specialists in order to treat the unwanted symptoms in the most effective manner. Texas Sports Medicine, located in the Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth, Texas area, strives to return active individuals to the sport they love following a thorough diagnosis and treatment of golfer’s elbow.
What is Medial Epicondylitis?
Golfer’s elbow is an overuse condition marked by pain where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the medial epicondyle on the inside of the elbow.
This condition is most commonly found in active men between the ages of 20-49 years who play golf, lift weights or perform repetitive activities on a regular basis. Many active individuals report discomfort related to medial epicondylitis after a sudden increase in activity or at the beginning of the sport season. Typically caused by overuse of the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the inside of the elbow, golfer’s elbow can also be caused by poor body mechanics when swinging and poor equipment fit. In baseball, poor pitching mechanics can also lead to this condition.
Medial epicondylitis is not only reported in golf enthusiasts. It can also occur in athletes involved in weight training, throwing sports and racquet sports, as well as workers who consistently overuse the forearm and elbow joint.
Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms
- Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow that can extend down the inner side of the forearm
- Weakness of the wrists and hands
- Numbness or tingling in the ring and little fingers
The pain associated with medial epicondylitis can intensify when swinging a club or racquet, squeezing an object, flexing the wrist or turning a doorknob.
Golfer’s Elbow Treatment
Individuals experiencing symptoms of golfer’s elbow are encouraged to contact an elbow specialist at the onset of symptoms since it is an overuse condition. Continued use of the forearm and elbow without treatment has the ability to cause more severe damage to the tendons and muscles.
- Stop the game of golf and all repetitive activities until the pain and discomfort is diminished
- Apply ice packs to the elbow several times each day for 15-20 minutes at a time
- Over-the-counter pain relievers and NSAIDs will help relieve pain and swelling
- Provide rest to the elbow and forearm by wearing a counter force brace on the affected arm
- Wrist splint will decrease the motion of the tendons at the elbow
- Physical therapy
- Designed to stretch and strengthen the wrist extensor tendon and associated muscle
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) may help accelerate the injured tendon’s healing process
- Corticosteroid injections can alleviate pain but do not promote healing and can cause further tendon degeneration
- Equipment check
- Have sporting equipment checked to determine proper fit
- Percutaneous Tenotomy (Tenex)
- Minimally invasive technique performed under ultrasound guidance which removes the diseased tissue while promoting a healing response
- Surgical technique: A minimally invasive procedure is performed to repair the torn tendon and/or remove damaged tissue while reattaching healthy tissue back to bone with the use of suture anchors. Drill holes are placed in the bone to stimulate stem cells to augment the reparative process
- Splint and sutures will be removed after 1 week
- Therapy to stretch the joint and restore flexibility will start after splint removal
- Therapy to strengthen the repaired joint will occur after 2 months
- Return to play is usually 4-6 months
If you live in the Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth, Texas area and believe you are experiencing symptoms of golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), please contact the office of Texas Sports Medicine today.