Medial Epicondylitis (a.k.a “Golfer’s Elbow”)
Despite the condition’s name, it’s not only golfers who experience golfer’s elbow. Medial epicondylitis results from overuse and inflammation of the tendons of the forearm muscles that connect to the medial (inside) aspect of the elbow. Most wrist flexor muscles attach at one common tendon, called the common flexor tendon, which inserts at the medial epicondyle. Sports that require repetitive wrist flexion and forearm pronation put athletes at risk for developing medial epicondylitis. As the name suggests, golf is one of the sports that most commonly causes medial epicondylitis. However, other athletes who develop the condition are most frequently baseball pitchers, javelin throwers, bowlers – athletes whose sports require repetitive wrist flexion when releasing a ball or other object. Manual laborers whose jobs require excessive lifting or gripping are also at risk for developing golfer’s elbow.
How is Golfer’s Elbow Treated?
Although the causes of golfer’s elbow are diverse, the first line of treatment is usually the same. Furthermore, conservative treatment for medial epicondylitis is similar to treatment for medial epicondyle apophysitis, a common ailment in young baseball players. Conservative treatments include rest, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), physical therapy, and sometimes bracing and corticosteroid injections. Stretching the forearm muscles that become inflamed, as shown below, can also provide relief. If non-operative treatment does not alleviate a patient’s symptoms, a procedure called a medial epicondyle release may be performed. In this operation, a surgeon releases tension on the common flexor tendon by removing scar tissue and any bone spurs near the medial epicondyle.