Common Ailments

Elbow > Golfers Elbow or Medial Epicondylalgia

Golfers elbow is the general term for a condition that affects the medial compartment of the elbow. It is also known as medial epicondylitis, implying that it is an inflammatory condition. However this is a misnomer as studies show that there is no inflammatory process.

The correct term is medial epicondylalgia i.e. medial elbow pain. It is a common condition that affects one to three in 100 people.
 

The elbow joint is composed of 3 bones that allow for the movements of flexion, extension, pronation and supination.

The structures involved in medial epicondylalgia consist of the common flexor muscles (the muscles that allow the wrist to flex), the respective tendon and the medial epicondyle (the bony insertion point of tendon).

The diagram opposite shows the structures involved and the area where pain is experienced.

Medial Epicondylalgia is recognised as a repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Repeated activities that involve the elbow, forearm and wrist e.g. using a screw driver, using vibratory equipment and even key board use can provoke the symptoms of medial epicondylalgia.

Although it is commonly referred to as golfers elbow, this does not indicate that it is a condition only associated with playing golf.
 

  • Pain on the media side of the elbow, usually point tenderness over the the medial epicondyle (bony prominence)
  • Pain can spread down the forearm on the medial aspect along the common flexor muscle belly
  • Difficultly extending the forearm
  • Swelling over the medial aspect of the elbow
  • Activities that involve wrist flexion, finger extension and gripping are characteristically painful
  • Ice therapy over the medial elbow to help ease the symptoms
  • Anti-inflammatories and/or pain relief medication can also help to ease the symptoms
  • Rest from the repetitive activity to allow the symptoms to settle. If using the mouse has been recognised as a cause of your symptoms then simply moving the mouse to your other hand can be sufficient rest

 

  • Physiotherapy can offer relief in the form of soft tissue release techniques, manual therapy, exercises including specific eccentric (dynamically lengthening) control work combined with stretches, eventually progressing to concentric (dynamically shortening) exercises
  • Correction or change of the activity causing the pain can help with future management
  • Acupuncture can also be used as a alternative form of pain relief
  • Persistent symptoms may require the use of an elbow strap or taping to offload the activity of the common flexor muscles
  • If conservative measures are not successful in settling the symptoms then an injection performed by an experience practitioner may be appropriate