Medial epicondylitis is the technical name for golfer’s elbow!
It is most commonly caused by the golf swing but many repetitive activities such as throwing or chopping can also be the cause.
The pain most commonly starts on the inside bump of the elbow – the medial epicondyle. The common wrist flexor tendon attaches to this bony landmark and when a repetitive/strong contraction of the muscles occur, for example, flexing the wrist or gripping with the hand, the forces on the tendon become too great and resulting pain and spasm occurs.
Symptoms may appear due to a sudden increase in activities e.g. a succession of golf games, change in clubs or poor technique.
A history of wrist, shoulder or neck injury may increase the likelihood of developing this condition.
Symptoms usually develop gradually but a mishit golf shot into hard ground can also trigger the pain.
Patients may experience a minor ache or a sharp pain on the inside elbow area, sometimes with referral down the forearm and will have problems with every day activities e.g. turning a door handle, shaking hands and turning the car wheel. A physiotherapy treatment programme will settle most golfers’ elbow problems and this may include:
- soft tissue massage
- dry needling
- progressive exercises to improve flexibility and strength
- postural correction
- education on gradual return to activity
If these techniques don’t settle the problem, then further medical intervention may be warranted. X-rays, MRI, corticosteroid injection and rarely surgery to release the area.
A visit to the golf professional to correct any swing faults may also be beneficial before a return to the activity.