Medial epicondylitis, commonly referred to as “golfer’s elbow,” is a condition associated with the overuse of tendons and muscles in the forearm and elbow. In this condition, repetitive activities, like golf and racquet sports, place strain on the elbow. The condition is also common among throwing athletes of all ages and performance levels. (However, it is most common in men over the age of 35.) In addition to sports, medial epicondylitis can also occur with routine activities, such as gardening or carrying heavy suitcases.
Symptoms occur on the inside of the elbow and extend to the wrist, along the same side of the forearm as the pinky finger. They include:
- Stiffness of the elbow
- Tenderness to the touch at the medial epicondyle (bone on inside of elbow)
- Weak grasp
While medial epicondylitis by itself does not cause numbness and tingling, frequently it can coexist with cubital tunnel syndrome, which together present with numbness and tingling.
The diagnosis must be carefully made, as there are other possible elbow conditions to consider. In fact, these other conditions may exist in tandem with epicondylitis. To make the determination, the doctor will first take a medical history, reviewing the symptoms and the onset of symptoms. A physical exam then consists of doing certain motions while checking for pain, stiffness or other symptoms. X-rays are only indicated if the doctor suspects something other than epicondylitis.
There is limited evidence that an MRI is a useful diagnostic tool for this condition.
Initial treatment for medial epicondylitis includes stopping the activity/movement that caused the condition. In addition, treatment may include icing, medications, injections, exercises and/or bracing. In some situations, such as persistent or recurring symptoms, surgery may be indicated.
Following successful treatment, a gradual return to activity will occur and injury prevention steps will be recommended.