Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
Golfer’s Elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a type of cumulative trauma injury. This results when the tendons that attach to the inner elbow start to degenerate. Tendons don’t stretch very easily and are vulnerable to degeneration, especially during repetitive motions, such as those used during a golf swing or other work related activities. The pain of Golfer’s Elbow typically occurs where the tendons attach to the elbow bone and can sometimes radiate down the forearm. The majority of people with Golfer’s Elbow find symptom relief without undergoing surgery. If surgery is necessary, there are open and arthroscopic methods available.
Golfer’s Elbow involves the flexor tendon that connects flexor forearm muscles to the inner, or medial, side of the elbow bone, or epicondyle. The forearm muscles that are responsible for flexing the wrist move it downward towards the palm side of the hand.
Golfer’s Elbow Causes
Repetitive motions, as well as cumulative stress, cause the tendons on the inner side of the elbow to deteriorate more rapidly than normal. These motions may occur while playing golf, but also during periods of muscle overuse.
Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms
A main symptom of Golfer’s Elbow is pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow. This pain normally increases during wrist flexion or grasping motions. The pain may also radiate down the forearm.
Golfer’s Elbow Diagnosis
The doctor performs an examination and reviews the individual’s medical and activity history in order to make a diagnosis of Golfer’s Elbow. The doctor evaluates the forearm and elbow structures with simple tests, typically an X-Ray. MRI imaging can also be used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other causes of elbow pain.
Golfer’s Elbow Treatment
Most cases of Golfer’s Elbow respond well to non-surgical treatments. Golfer’s Elbow treatment typically includes rest or activity restriction or alteration. Specific stretching and exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist are often prescribed. The therapist may use ultrasound to promote healing. A splint, brace, or elbow wrapping may also be recommended, as well as ice. Cortisone shots may be administered in certain situations.
Golfer’s Elbow Surgery
Most individuals with Golfer’s Elbow do not require surgery. Surgery is only considered if significant pain continues after nonsurgical treatments have failed, and this is over an extended period of time. Surgery for Golfer’s Elbow is typically an outpatient procedure that removes the damaged tendon and reattaches the healthy tendon to the bone. There are several approaches to the surgery including open surgery, percutaneous, and arthroscopic surgery, with the most popular being arthroscopic surgery.
Arthroscopic surgery uses a small camera to guide the surgeon. Only small incisions are used, leaving the joint is unopened.
Elbow motion can begin almost immediately after the surgery, and is gradually increased as the surgeon instructs. Full recovery from elbow surgery can take several months.
Golfer’s Elbow Recovery
A full recovery from Golfer’s Elbow can take several months. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions, specifically with respect to the condition of rest, rehabilitation, and lifestyle or sports modifications, such as changing the technique of a golf swing.
At SPORT, we will identify the source of your pain and then utilize state-of-the-art therapeutic techniques that focus on restoring your range of motion.
Depending on the specific condition and its severity, these treatment options may include physical therapy, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, slings and supports, cortisone shots, or shoulder or elbow surgery.
If you have an acute or chronic shoulder or elbow injury that needs medical attention, call SPORT at (469) 200-28322 to arrange a consultation or you can request one online. Hurt today? We can arrange a same-day urgent care visit to ensure you get fast, effective relief.