|Medial Epicondylitis is usually referred to as “Golfer’s Elbow”, not because only golfers develop the ailment, but because that activity is a common cause of the problem.There are many other activities that can result in Golfer’s Elbow such as working out at the gym or simply working in front of a computer for prolonged periods. Each of these activities use the same muscles repetitively and can result in the inflammation of muscles, ligaments & tendons.Two additional strains, Lateral Epicondylitis (more commonly known as Tennis Elbow) and Bursitis, are often mistaken for Medial Epicondylitis. Before we delve into the options that are available for relieving & preventing the pain…let’s look at the distinguishing characteristics of each of these 3 ailments.
Outside of Elbow
Cause & Symptoms
The onset of pain, on the outside (lateral) of the elbow, is usually gradual with tenderness felt on or below the joint’s bony prominence. Movements such as gripping, lifting and carrying tend to be troublesome.
Inside of Elbow
Cause & Symptoms
The causes of golfer’s elbow are similar to tennis elbow but pain and tenderness are felt on the inside (medial) of the elbow, on or around the joint’s bony prominence.
Back of Elbow
Cause & Symptoms
Often due to excessive leaning on the joint or a direct blow or fall onto the tip of the elbow.
A lump can often be seen and the elbow is painful at the back of the joint.
The Physiology Of Golfer’s Elbow
The muscles of the forearm that pull the wrist down are called wrist flexors. They begin at a common tendon attachment on the inside bump of the elbow called the medial epicondyle (below). As the wrist is flexed or the hand made to grip, the muscles tense and pull against the tendons. Force placed on the flexor muscles during a golf swing pulls on the tendons at the medial epicondyle.
Golfers Elbow, is similar to its counterpart, Tennis Elbow. The primary difference between the two is the location of the pain and the activity that leads to
injury. However, both conditions are caused by overuse of the muscles of the forearm leading to inflammation and pain around the elbow joint.
These problems, Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow, are forms of tendonitis. Tendons are the ends of muscles that attach to bone. Because of the force of the muscle, the points of insertion of the tendon on the bone are often pointed prominences.
The medical names of Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and Golfers Elbow (medial epicondylitis) come from the names of these bony prominences where the tendons insert, and where the inflammation causes the pain. The pain of Golfers Elbow is usually at the elbow joint on the inside of the arm; a shooting sensation down the forearm is also common while gripping objects.
Symptoms Of Golfer’s Elbow
- Tenderness and pain at the medial epicondyle, made worse by flexing the wrist. The pain may spread down the forearm. Activities that use the flexor muscles like bending the wrist or grasping can make matters worse.
- Pain caused by lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects such as a coffee cup.
- Difficulty extending the forearm fully (because of inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments).
- Pain that typically lasts for 6 to 12 weeks; the discomfort can continue for as little as 3 weeks or as long as several years.
Relief of Golfer’s Elbow
The best way to relieve Medial Epicondylitis is to stop doing anything that irritates your arm. A simple step for the weekend athlete, but not as easy for the manual laborer, office worker, or professional athlete.
The most effective conventional and alternative treatments for Epicondylitis have the same basic premise: Rest the arm until the pain disappears, then massage to relieve stress and tension in the muscles, and exercise to strengthen the area and prevent re-injury. If you must go back to whatever caused the problem in the first place, be sure to warm up your arm for at least 5 to 10 minutes with gentle stretching and movement before starting any activity. Take frequent breaks.
For most mild to moderate cases of Epicondylitis, aspirin or ibuprofen will help address the inflammation and the pain while you are resting the injury, and then you can follow up with exercise and massage to speed healing. For stubborn cases of Epicondylitis your doctor may advise corticosteroid injections, which dramatically reduce inflammation, but they cannot be used long-term because of potentially damaging side effects.
Another attractive option for many sufferers, especially those who prefer to not ingest medication orally, is the application of an appropriate and effective topical anti-inflammatory. Penetrex was specifically designed to reduce inflammation and does so by taking advantage of well known elements Arnica, Choline, Pyridoxine / Vitamin B6, MSM, Cetyl Myristoleate & Boswellia Serrata. Researched, formulated and introduced recently by a renowned Pharmaceutical Biochemist, Penetrex has proven to be extremely successful in treating inflammation related ailments such as epicondylitis, tendonitis, bursitis,etc.
Even after you feel you have overcome a case of Epicondylitis, be sure to continue babying your arm. Always warm up your arm for 5 to 10 minutes before starting any activity involving your elbow. And if you develop severe pain after use anyway, pack your arm in ice for 15 to 20 minutes and call your doctor.