WHAT IS Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)?
Understand the causes of pain & inflammation from Golfer's Elbow
Golfer’s elbow is a condition where the common flexor tendon, which is the tendon that attaches to the elbow and is responsible for forehand (wrist flexion) movements of the wrist, gets injured. Although golf players can get this condition, it happens to anyone who has overstressed the tendons.
Another name for golfer’s elbow is Medial Epicondylitis which is where the tendon is inflamed. We now know that it is not the most common cause of golfer’s elbow. The correct name is common flexor tendinosis. Most tendon injuries result in overuse in the tendon that attaches to the bone which can cause the tendon to weaken or tear.
How do you know if you have Medial Epicondylitis?
Golfer’s elbow typically develops over time and is usually caused in people who are flexing their wrists as the common flexor tendon moves the wrist. Symptoms can include pain and stiffness over the inside of the elbow, radiating pain down the arm, or difficult grabbing objects. Ultrasound is equivalent to MRI to see if there is a tendon injury and is inexpensive and can be done in the clinic to measure the severity of the injury.
What are the treatments for Medial Epicondylitis?
Nonsurgical options include activity modification including changing the way you use your wrist or reducing activity that aggravates you, bracing such as a golfer’s elbow brace as seen in the picture below, or physical therapy exercises.
To properly fit the brace, it is critical that the brace is tight and snug and at least 1 inch below the elbow to take pressure off the injured tendons. Physical therapy can be very helpful and include massage, dry needling and specific strengthening exercises. In order for therapy to be helpful, it takes 4-6 weeks of specific strengthening exercises to relieve some of tension the tendon takes.
When non-invasive treatments are not successful, the next step is injections. Injections could include Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Percutaneous Tenotomy (Tenex) which are very effective for tennis elbow.