Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow is a condition that causes pain on the medial epicondyle, which is the inside bump on the elbow. This condition is not exclusive to golfers, but the repetition of the golf swing is a common cause of medial epicondyle pain.
Swinging a golf club places strain on the tendons that connect to the elbow, and too much golfing without a proper amount of rest or recovery can begin to aggravate and eventually injure these tendons.
In cases of golfer’s elbow, the pain is sometimes caused by inflammation, but more commonly it is caused by the build-up of scar tissue. When you overuse your elbow and play through pain, it is not able to adequately heal and is instead reinjured. This constant cycle of incomplete healing thickens the tendons in your elbow with scar tissue, causing joint weakness and pain. To diagnose this condition, your doctor will perform a physical examination and may call for X-rays and MRI scans to rule out other types of elbow injuries.
To relieve the pain of golfer’s elbow and start returning to regular activity, both surgical and nonsurgical approaches can be taken depending on the extent of the damage done to the elbow. Nonsurgical treatment typically combines anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone shots, physical therapy, icing and plenty of rest.
When nonsurgical methods fail to relive pain, surgery may be necessary. There are two main surgical techniques to treat this condition. The first is tendon debridement, in which the surgeon removes damaged issues from the tendon. The second is tendon release, in which the surgeon relives tension from the flexor tendon, removes scar tissue, and removes bone spurs. After recovery, these surgeries should give you the ability to hit the links free of pain.
Reference: Orthogate; “Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)”; July 20, 2006; http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/elbow/medial-epicondylitis-golfers-elbow.html