Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

As you might guess, golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis is very common in golfers. However, you don’t have to play golf to suffer from this injury.

If you suffer from golfer’s elbow, you need the right treatment from Dr. John Andrachuk. With years of experience treating many injuries, including medial epicondylitis, Dr. Andrachuk offers a great choice for your Orthopedic Sports Medicine surgeon in Atlanta.

What is Golfer’s Elbow?

The medical term for golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis. This condition occurs when the tendons found in the forearm become inflamed and irritated. It’s a painful injury affecting the hand, wrist, and forearm.

Golfer’s elbow involves the flexor and pronator muscle tendons which originate from the bony prominence of the elbow known as the medial epicondyle.

Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms

The most common symptoms of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Pain on the inner side of the elbow
  • Pain in the forearm
  • Tenderness in the elbow
  • Weakness in the hands or wrist
  • Stiffness in the elbow
  • It hurts when you make a fist
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers

The pain may come on fast or it could be very gradual. It usually will get worse when performing certain activities, such as swinging a golf club or tennis racket.

Most Common Causes of Golfer’s Elbow

While medial epicondylitis is known as golfer’s elbow, it’s not caused only by golfing. It can also be referred to as baseball elbow. Some of the most common causes of golfer’s elbow include:

  • Using great force to serve in tennis or using a high spin serve
  • The weakening of muscles in the shoulder and wrist
  • Throwing a javelin
  • Swinging a golf club
  • Pitching a baseball
  • Chopping wood with an ax
  • Operating a chain saw
  • Using a tennis racket that’s too short, too heavy, or too tightly strung
  • Frequently using other hand tools continually
  • Carrying a heavy suitcase
  • Weight training

Along with these common causes, any forceful, repetitive movement may cause golfer’s elbow. It’s common in those working in plumbing, carpentry, or construction.

Most Common Risk Factors for Golfer’s Elbow

A few things will put you at a higher risk of suffering from golfer’s elbow including:

  • If you’re 40 years of age or older
  • If you’re overweight or obese
  • If you’re a smoker
  • If you perform a repetitive activity for two hours per day or longer

Any of these things can put you at a higher risk of suffering from golfer’s elbow.  

How Golfer’s Elbow is Diagnosed

When you visit a doctor due to pain in your elbow, a physical exam will be necessary to help with diagnosis. It’s also common for your doctors to ask questions about your medical history. 

The physical examination will likely include a golfer’s elbow test. This test will include specific physical movements with your elbow to help your doctor better diagnose the injury.

Along with a physical examination, an X-ray or MRI could be used to better diagnose the injury or rule out other possibilities. MRI scans are rarely used to diagnose golfer’s elbow but can be used in some cases.

Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

Treatment options for medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) include both non-surgical and surgical options. Most doctors will start with nonsurgical treatments before recommending surgery. Some of the most common nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Medication – Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium are commonly used to help treat the pain and inflammation from golfer’s elbow.
  • Corticosteroid Injections – Another common treatment used to relieve pain is a steroid injection.
  • Platelet-rich Plasma – A newer treatment, platelet-rich plasma involves drawing blood and injecting platelets into the area with other anti-inflammatory factors.
  • Rest – Taking time off from the activity causing the pain can help your elbow heal.
  • Ice – Applying ice for 15 to 20 minutes is a common treatment to help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Using a brace – Medial epicondylitis can be treated with a brace to help reduce the strain on the muscle and tendon.
  • Physical therapy – Stretching and strengthening exercises can be used to help the muscle and tendon.

If nonsurgical treatment doesn’t work or the golfer’s elbow is severe, surgery might be needed, however, it’s seldom used as a treatment option.

Types of Golfer’s Elbow Surgery

Golfer’s elbow surgery is known as an open medial epicondyle release surgery. The surgeon will make an incision in the forearm and cut the tendon. The damaged tissue found around the tendon will be removed, and the tendon will be reattached. 

A newer procedure called the TENEX procedure offers a minimally invasive option using ultrasound. This procedure will help to remove scar tissue in the area where pain has been caused. 

If surgery is necessary, you will need physical therapy after to fully recover. It’s common to spend some time in a brace or splint after the surgery to allow healing before starting physical therapy.

Most patients suffering from golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis won’t need surgery. Several nonsurgical treatment options can be used to relieve pain and allow for healing.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

Providing years of experience treating golfer’s elbow, Dr. Andrachuk offers several options to help relieve your pain. If you’ve been suffering from any of the symptoms associated with golfer’s elbow, it’s time to seek medical help. Dr. Andrachuk offers several conservative treatments, and for rare cases, surgical options to treat golfer’s elbow. Contact us today and schedule your in-person or telemedicine appointment!