What Is Golfers Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)? Medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow) is a painful inflammation of the bony bump on the inner side of the elbow. The bone in the eupper arm (humerus) and one of the bones in the lower arm (ulna). The bony bumps at the bottom of the humerus are called the epicondyle, and the bump on the outer side of the elbow is called the lateral epicondyle. The tendons of the muscles that work to bend your wrist attach at the medial epicondyle. Medial epicondylitis is also referred to as wrist flexor tendonitis.
How Does It Occur? Golfer's Elbow occurs from overuse of the muscles that enable you to bend your fingers and wrist. When these muscles are overused, the tendons are repeatedly tugged at their point of attachment (the medial epicondyle). As a result, the tendons become inflamed (tendonitis), and repeated, tiny tears in the tendon tissue cause pain. This commonly happens in sports such as golf, in throwing sports, and in racquet sports. It also may happen in occupational activities like carpentry or typing.
What Are The Symptoms Of Golfers Elbow? Golfer's Elbow causes pain in the elbow at the side closest to your body. You may also have pain along the entire inner side of your forearm when your wrist is bent. You may have pain when you make a fist. If you see a doctor, they will examine your elbow and find tenderness at the medial epicondyle.
How Is It Treated? You should apply ice packs to your elbow for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 or 3 days or until the pain goes away. If your elbow is swollen, you should elevate it by placing a pillow underneath it when you are lying down and by elevating it on the back of a chair or couch while sitting. You may be given an elastic bandage to wrap around your elbow to keep it from swelling. While you are recovering from your injury, you will need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, instead of playing golf you should walk or write things out by hand instead of typing. Your doctor may prescribe a tennis elbow strap for you to wear just below the tender spot on your elbow. This will allow the forearm muscles to pull against the strap instead of against the painful epicondyle. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication. Your doctor may give you an injection of a corticosteroid medication around the medial epicondyle to reduce the inflammation. You will be given elbow exercises to hep strengthen the muscles and encourage the healing process. In severe cases of Golfer's Elbow surgery may need to be done.
When Can I Return To My Sport Or Activity? The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from an injury at a a different rate. Return to your activity will be determined by how soon your elbow recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. You may return to your sport or activity when you are able to forcefully grip your tennis racquet, bat, or golf club, or do activities such as working at a keyboard without pain in your elbow. In sports such as gymnastics, it is important that you are able to bear weight on your elbow painlessly. It is important that there is no swelling around your injured elbow and that it has regained its normal strength compared to your uninjured elbow. You must have full range of motion of your elbow.
How Can I Prevent Medial Epicondylitis (Golfers Elbow)? Since medial epicondylitis occurs because of overuse to the muscles that bend your wrist, it is important that you do not allow this over-activity to occur. At the earliest signs of pain on the inner side of your elbow, you should slow your activity down and seek treatment. Wearing a tennis elbow strap and doing elbow stretching exercises will help prevent Golfer's Elbow pain.
Golfers Elbow Exercises: You may do stretching exercises 1 through 3 right away. You may do strengthening exercises 4 through 6 when stretching is nearly painless.
- Wrist range of motion: Bend your wrist forward and backward as far as you can. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets.
- Forearm range of motion: With your elbow at your side and bent 90 degrees, bring your palm facing up and hold for 5 seconds then slowly turn your palm facing down and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets. Make sure you keep your elbow bent at 90 degrees throughout this exercise.
- Elbow range of motion: Gently bring your palm up toward your shoulder and bend your elbow as far as you can. Then straighten your elbow out as far as you can. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets.
- Wrist strengthening: A) Wrist flexion: Holding a soup can or hammer handle with your palm up, slowly bend your wrist up. Slowly lower the weight and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets. Gradually increase the weight of the can you are holding. B) Wrist extension: Holding a soup can or hammer handle with your palm down, gently bend your wrist up. Slowly lower the weight and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets. Gradually increase the weight of the can you are holding. C) Wrist radial deviation: Hold your wrist in the sideways position with your thumb up. Holding a can of soup or hammer handle, gently bend your wrist up with your thumb reaching towards the ceiling. Slowly lower to the starting position. Do not move your forearm throughout this exercise. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets.
- Pronation and supination: Hold a soup can or hammer handle in your hand, with your elbow bent 90 degrees. Slowly rotate your hand with palm upward and then palm down. Repeat 10 times. Do 3 sets.
- Wrist extension: Stand up and hold a broom handle in both hands. With your arms at shoulder level, elbows straight and palms down, roll the broom handle backward in your hand as if you are reeling something in using the broom handle. Repeat for 1 minute and then rest. Do 3 sets.
All material provided is designed for information purposes only and should not be used to replace the care of a health care professional. Do not rely on any of the information for diagnosis or treatment. It is recommended that you visit a qualified health care professional for individual and personal attention.