Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis)

Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis)

Although golfer's elbow can indeed develop from playing golf, in most of the cases the cause is not related to this sport. Pain can also occur for any person while bending the wrist or simply squeezing something in the hand.

At Schoen Clinic, you will receive comprehensive advice from our shoulder and elbow specialists and together with you, we will discuss which treatment is best for your symptoms.

How does golfer's elbow develop?

Golfer’s elbow is due to chronic degeneration of the tendon insertions on the inside of the elbow. It is a painful condition caused by repetitive use and sprains of the tendons.

Golfer’s elbow can be associated with compression of the ulnar nerve and in these cases, abnormal sensation, tingling or burning might affect the ring and little fingers. Therefore, an ulnar nerve decompression may be required in addition to the standard surgical treatment.

Rarely, golfer’s elbow can be also associated with elbow instability. This is usually seen in throwing athletes, where the elbow feels unstable and may clunk on movement. Instability is caused by insufficiency of the ulnar collateral ligament on the inside of the elbow. This might also require surgical repair.

This is how we diagnose golfer's elbow

Diagnosis is usually confirmed by clinical examination. However, an X-ray may be requested to exclude other causes of elbow pain. Often an ultrasound scan is performed if an acute tendon tear or calcium deposits within the tendon are suspected. Nerve conduction studies might be required if ulnar nerve compression is suspected. MRI can help diagnose elbow instability and tendon degeneration. 

Golfer's elbow symptoms

Symptoms of golfer’s elbow include pain and weakness when performing movements such as bending the wrist, making a fist or squeezing something in the hand. These are common movements in many sports and activities including golf, throwing and manual labour.

Causes of golfer's elbow

A golfer’s elbow injury occurs when the tendons and muscles used to control your wrist become damaged. You often see this injury in golfers due to the repeated strain imposed on the wrist and fingers. Damage typically occurs when repetitive actions create small tears in the tendon that connects the wrist and the elbow, which in turn can become swollen and painful.

There are several contributing factors that can lead to a golfer’s elbow injury occurring. Inadequate warm-up prior to sport, poor conditioning and technique, as well as regular repetitive strain which can all have an impact.