Medial epicondylitis is a type of tendinitis that affects the elbow joint. The medial epicondyle is a bony bump on the inside of the elbow joint. When the joint is overused or injured, it can cause inflammation and pain.
Medial epicondylitis is also commonly called:
- Golfer’s elbow
- Baseball elbow
- Suitcase elbow
Medial epicondylitis can be fixed through rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and rehabilitation exercises.
What causes medial epicondylitis?
Often, the condition is caused by excessive use of the joint during inward rotatory movements of the wrist and fingers. Poor posture while playing sports and repetitive stress can cause micro-tears in the tendons of the forearm muscles, leading to inflammation and restricted movement of the elbow joint.
Activities that can cause medial epicondylitis include:
- Playing sports such as golf, baseball, rowing and badminton
- Carrying heavy weights
- Construction workers
What are the signs and symptoms of medial epicondylitis?
Signs and symptoms of medial epicondylitis include:
- Pain around the wrist joint (pain can involve the entire medial side of the forearm and palm)
- Limited elbow movements
- Red and swollen elbow
- Stiff elbow
- Weakening of wrist movements
- Tingling sensation on the forearm and wrist
How is medial epicondylitis diagnosed?
During a physical examination, your doctor will keep your arm on a table and apply pressure while asking you to flex your arm. If you aren’t able to flex your arm and complain of pain, a diagnosis of golfer’s elbow will be confirmed.
In addition to this exam, your doctor may order an X-ray to assess the inflammatory situation of the bones inside your arm.
How is medial epicondylitis treated?
Typically, firstline treatment of medial epicondylitis involves restricting the movement of the affected elbow to stop the inflammation from progressing. Treatment may also include:
- Applying ice packs
- Strengthening exercises
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain
In severe cases, the following treatment may be necessary
- Corticosteroid injections administered into the elbow joint
Rehabilitation exercises for medial epicondylitis include:
- Squeezing exercises: Helps build strength in the forearm
- Finger extensions: Involves squeezing your fingers together using a rubber band, then extending your fingers as much as possible
- Wrist extensions: Involves slowly lifting and lowering your wrist, and can be done with increasing weights for greater strength building
- Forearm pronation and supination: Involves moving your palm to face upwards and then face downwards
Can medial epicondylitis be prevented?
Golfer’s elbow can be prevented with the following measures:
- Avoiding overuse of one elbow
- Wearing proper supportive equipment if needed
- Stretching the elbow before intense activity
- Building elbow strength to avoid injury
- Resting the joint in between activities to allow for healing
- Stopping activity if pain occurs
- Practicing proper form and posture when playing sports
With proper preventative measures and resting of the arm, medial epicondylitis can be completely avoided.
What is the prognosis of medial epicondylitis?
Chances of full recovery of the elbow are very high if the condition is timely and properly managed. However, if ignored for a long time, it can lead to permanent erosion and damage of the elbow joint and loss of function. It is therefore important not to ignore pain around the elbow to avoid complications.
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