What is medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) is a type of tendinitis that affects the inside of the elbow. It develops where tendons in the forearm muscle connect to the bony part on the inside of the elbow.

Tendons attach muscles to bones. Due to injury or irritation, they can become swollen and painful. Although medial epicondylitis is referred to as golfer’s elbow, it doesn’t only affect golfers. It can occur from any activity involving use of the arms or wrists, including tennis and baseball.

Medial epicondylitis can occur suddenly or develop slowly over a period of time. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. If you have golfer’s elbow, you may experience any of the following:

  • pain on the inside of your elbow
  • elbow stiffness
  • hand and wrist weakness
  • tingling sensation or numbness in the fingers, especially the ring and little fingers
  • difficulty moving the elbow

It’s not unusual for elbow pain to radiate down the arm to the wrist. This makes it difficult to complete everyday activities, such as picking up items, opening a door, or giving a handshake. Typically, medial epicondylitis affects the dominant arm.

Medial epicondylitis is caused by repetitive motions, which is why this condition occurs among athletes. Golfers may develop this type of tendinitis from repeatedly swinging a golf club, whereas tennis players can develop it from repeatedly using their arms to swing a tennis racket. In both cases, overuse of the arms and wrist damages tendons and triggers pain, stiffness, and weakness.

Other risk factors for this type of tendinitis include playing baseball or softball, rowing, and weightlifting. Activities like playing an instrument and typing on the computer can also lead to medial epicondylitis

If pain in your elbow doesn’t improve, see a doctor. Your doctor may ask questions about your symptoms, pain level, medical history, and any recent injuries. You’ll also need to provide information about your daily activities, including your work duties, hobbies, and recreational activities.

Your doctor may complete a physical examination, which may include applying pressure to your elbow, wrist, and fingers to check for stiffness or discomfort.

Golfer’s elbow test:

A common way for a doctor to diagnose medial epicondylitis is using the test below: