Medial epicondylitis is pain over the bone on the inner side of the elbow. The piece of bone that can be felt on the inner side of the elbow is called the medial epicondyle. When the tendons attached to this bone are overstretched or torn, they can become painful. This is called
Medial epicondylitis is commonly called golfer's elbow, but it is not restricted to people who play golf. It can occur in tennis players and other people who repeatedly grip objects tightly.
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Golfer's elbow is caused by overusing the flexor muscles of the forearms. Overusing these muscles can stretch or tear the tendons attached to the medial epicondyle.
Causes include: Improper golf swing technique or grip of golf clubsWrong model of golf clubsImproper technique for hitting a tennis ballImproper size of tennis racquet or tension of racquet strings
Doing certain arm motions too much, such as:
Golf swingsTennis strokes (forehand or serve)PaintingRakingPitchingRowingUsing a hammer or screwdriver
Factors that may increase your chance of medial epicondylitis include: Playing golf or tennisWork that requires repetitive gripping or clenching of the fingers (especially when the hand is bent up or down at the wrist)Muscle imbalanceDecreased flexibilityAdvancing age
Symptoms include: Pain or tenderness on the inner side of the elbow
Pain increases when:
Shaking handsTurning doorknobsPicking up objects with your palm downHitting a forehand in tennisSwinging a golf clubApplying pressure to this areaPossibly pain extending down the forearmTightness of forearm musclesStiffness or trouble moving the elbow or hand
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, recent physical activity, and how the injury occurred. You may not remember the event that caused the injury because golfer's elbow pain develops over time. The doctor will examine your elbow for:
Pain on the inner side of the elbow when:
Doing certain arm motionsPressing on the medial epicondyleStiffness of elbow and pain with wrist movement
are not usually necessary. However, an x-ray may be needed if the doctor suspects other problems.
is occasionally used for diagnosis, but there is only limited evidence supporting this use.
Do not do activities that cause pain. Do not play sports, especially golf and tennis, until the pain is gone. You may need to alter how you do certain activities.
Regular ice application may help decrease some discomfort and swelling.
The following drugs can help to reduce inflammation and pain: Nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)AcetaminophenTopical pain relievers that are applied to the skin
If you still have tenderness in the elbow while taking these drugs, do not return to physical activity. Check with your doctor.
Wear a counter-force brace on your forearm if recommended by your healthcare professional. This brace limits the force generated by your forearm muscles when you use them.
Apply heat to the elbow only when you are returning to physical activity. Then use it before stretching or getting ready to play sports.
When the acute pain is gone, start gentle stretching as recommended by a healthcare professional. Stay within pain limits. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat 6 times.
Begin strengthening exercises for the flexor muscles of the forearm as recommended.
Begin arm motions of your sport or activity (such as golf swings, tennis strokes, painting) as recommended.
The doctor may inject cortisone into the elbow near the medial epicondyle to reduce pain and inflammation.
To help reduce your chance of medial epicondylitis: Keep your arm muscles strong so they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.After a short warm-up period, stretch your arm muscles before physical activity.Learn the proper technique for activities that require forearm motion.
If you play golf, ask a golf specialist to check your:
Swing techniqueGripModel of golf clubs
If you play tennis, ask a tennis specialist to check your:
Technique for hitting a forehandRacket size and tension of racket strings
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Last reviewed December 2014 by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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