Golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis affects an athletes sports performance because it causes pain along the inner side of the elbow. The pain from this condition can radiate into the forearm and into the wrist.
Medial epicondylitis is considered an overuse injury and is associated with a golf swing, hitting a tennis ball, bowling, weight lifters and baseball pitchers. From an anatomy standpoint the area that becomes inflamed is the bony prominence along the medial aspect of elbow called the medial epicondyle.
The muscles of the forearm that attach to this bone are the wrist flexors which pulls the hand forward and allows grip strength. Both the forearm muscles and elbow are affected with the repetitive stress of gripping, flexing the wrist and twisting of the forearm. The contracting muscle pulls on the tendon attaching to the elbow setting the stage for the condition.
Thus sports performance such as swinging a golf club , pitching a baseball or hitting a tennis ball is decreased. Here in this article we will give you insight on this very common condition and how to relieve the symptoms.
Medial epicondylitis mostly occurs in the dominant upper extremity of the athlete. Signs to look for are (1) pain and tenderness along the medial aspect of elbow especially on palpation of the bony prominence (2) pain that spreads from the elbow to wrist (3) swelling along the inside of elbow (4) weakness and muscle tightness in the forearm musculature (5) difficulty moving elbow or hand and (6) decreased grip strength. Golfer’s elbow affects sports performance because of the pain and weakness of the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand.
Initially after the condition is diagnosed by the physician is to cease the activity that seems to aggravate the pain. You can do other sports performance activities as long as they do not require a lot of arm movement such as stationary bike, walking, jogging or conditioning apparatus for the lower body. Get in the habit of applying ice several times per day for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. The orthopedist can prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medication to ease pain and reduce inflammation. It is best to avoid a steroid injection into the elbow.
To speed the recovery of the condition a physical therapist will use ultrasound, electrical stimulation or cold laser. These modalities will reduce acute pain and tenderness, decrease edema, decrease sensitivity and reduce scar tissue formation especially along the bony prominence. Many therapists tend to perform sports massage to relax the muscles of the forearm.
Physical therapists will help strengthen the upper extremity and regain any lost motion in your shoulder, elbow or wrist. Under the guidance of the physical therapist a home stretching and strengthening will be written up.
If your sport requires repetitive motion you must consider building upper arm strength, warming up and stretching before play, develop proper technique in arm motion either from a sports performance trainer or sports medicine clinic and learn to rest the involved elbow. Don’t rush back to play until pain is gone or with the blessing of a therapist or doctor.
Medial epicondylitis is usually not a serious condition or of long duration but it can keep you on the sidelines for months if you do not take treatment or give it rest. It is very tempting to resume sports performance activity but you want to avoid further injury and delay healing. When you start playing golf or tennis you want to make sure start slowly and that your ready.