Golfers aren't the only people affected. Any activity that requires repeated bending of the wrist and fingers toward the body can cause medial epicondylitis.
Medial epicondylitis or golfer's elbow is a condition that causes pain and tenderness near the bony bump on the inside area of your elbow. "Golfer's elbow" was so named because it can be caused by repetitive golf swings, but the condition can result from any repeated bending of the wrist and fingers in toward the body.
The muscles in your forearm that bend your wrist and fingers forward attach by tendons to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow, called the "medial epicondyle". This is actually the end of the long arm bone called the humerus. When these muscles are overused, the tendons become irritated and may even tear slightly, which can cause scarring. Medial epicondylitis occurs when you overuse these muscles and irritate the tendons in activities like typing, racquet sports, baseball or even carpentry.
The first signs you notice might be pain and tenderness at the inside bump of your elbow. You will probably feel pain down the inside of your forearm when you bend your wrist and hand toward your body.
Your doctor will diagnose this condition by asking questions about your recreational activities and by an examination to determine the exact location of the pain.
The first step in reducing pain is to stop any activities that cause discomfort, as they may be causing or exacerbating the condition.
Your doctor may also recommend:
Ice packs, to be applied approximately 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day, to help reduce pain and inflammation
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and ease pain
- Splints or elbow straps to ease tension at the bony attachment by restricting the use of muscles and tendons
- Soft bandage wraps and elevation of the elbow to prevent excess swelling
- Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation and pain
- Exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles.
Scar tissue and bone spurs may be contributing to your condition. If this is the case, your doctor may recommend a simple outpatient procedure to remove these.
Taking these steps may help prevent this condition:
- Follow an exercise or weight training program to strengthen the muscles in your forearm.
- Stretch and warm up before sports or other activities.
- Use ice packs after activities that involve repetitive forearm movements.
- Maintain proper posture during exercise and occupational activities to reduce strain on your elbow and arm muscles.