Golfer’s elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, is a painful condition occurring from repeated muscle contractions in the forearm that leads to inflammation and microtears in the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle. The medial epicondyle is the bony prominence that is felt on the inside of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are similar, except that golfer’s elbow occurs on the inside of the elbow and tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow. Both conditions are a type of tendonitis, which literally means “inflammation of the tendons” although factors in addition to inflammation also play a signficiant role.
Signs and symptoms of golfer’s elbow can include: Elbow pain that appears suddenly or gradually, achy pain to the inner side of the elbow during activity, elbow stiffness with decreased range of motion, pain that radiates to the inner forearm, hand or wrist, weakened grip, pain worse with gripping objects, and pain exacerbated in the elbow when the wrist is flexed or bent forward toward the forearm.
Golfer’s elbow is usually caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that control wrist and finger movement, but may also be caused by direct trauma such as with a fall, car accident or work injury. Golfer’s elbow is commonly seen in golfers; hence the name, especially when poor technique or unsuitable equipment is used when hitting the ball. Other common causes include any activity that requires repetitive motion of the forearm such as: painting, hammering, typing, raking, pitching sports, gardening, shoveling, fencing and playing golf. Conservative treatment includes rest, activity modification, physical therapy, bracing and injections (corticosteroids, PRP). If conservative treatment options fail to resolve the condition and symptoms persist, your surgeon may recommend surgery to treat golfer’s elbow. The goal of surgery is to remove the diseased tissue around the inner elbow, improve blood supply to the area to promote healing, and alleviate the symptoms.