Medial Epicondylitis

(Golfer's Elbow)


Medial epicondylitis is pain over the bone on the inner side of the elbow. The piece of bone that can be felt on the inner side of the elbow is called the medial epicondyle. When the tendons attached to this bone are overstretched or torn, they can become painful. This is called tendinopathy .
Medial epicondylitis is commonly called golfer's elbow, but it is not restricted to people who play golf. It can occur in tennis players and other people who repeatedly grip objects tightly.
Medial Epicondylitis
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Golfer's elbow is caused by overusing the flexor muscles of the forearms. Overusing these muscles can stretch or tear the tendons attached to the medial epicondyle.
Causes include:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of medial epicondylitis include:


Symptoms include:


The doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, recent physical activity, and how the injury occurred. You may not remember the event that caused the injury because golfer's elbow pain develops over time. The doctor will examine your elbow for:
X-rays are not usually necessary. However, an x-ray may be needed if the doctor suspects other problems.
An MRI scan is occasionally used for diagnosis, but there is only limited evidence supporting this use.


Treatment includes:


Do not do activities that cause pain. Do not play sports, especially golf and tennis, until the pain is gone. You may need to alter how you do certain activities.


Regular ice application may help decrease some discomfort and swelling.


The following drugs can help to reduce inflammation and pain:
  • Nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Acetaminophen
  • Topical pain relievers that are applied to the skin
If you still have tenderness in the elbow while taking these drugs, do not return to physical activity. Check with your doctor.


Wear a counter-force brace on your forearm if recommended by your healthcare professional. This brace limits the force generated by your forearm muscles when you use them.


Apply heat to the elbow only when you are returning to physical activity. Then use it before stretching or getting ready to play sports.


When the acute pain is gone, start gentle stretching as recommended by a healthcare professional. Stay within pain limits. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat 6 times.


Begin strengthening exercises for the flexor muscles of the forearm as recommended.

Gradual Return to Your Sport

Begin arm motions of your sport or activity (such as golf swings, tennis strokes, painting) as recommended.

Cortisone Injection

The doctor may inject cortisone into the elbow near the medial epicondyle to reduce pain and inflammation.


To help reduce your chance of medial epicondylitis:


Ortho Info— American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Sports Med—American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine


Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation


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Medial epicondylitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated August 20, 2014. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Metz JP. Managing golf injuries: Technique and equipment changes that aid treatment. Phys Sportsmed. 1999;27(7):41-56.

Overuse injuries. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine website. Available at: Accessed December 17, 2014.

Petersen B, Rovati S. Diclofenac epolamine (Flector) patch: Evidence for topical activity. Clin Drug Investig. 2009;29(1):1-9.

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10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Massey T, Derry S, et al. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.

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