Golfer's elbow is pain and inflammation on the inner side of your elbow, where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. The pain may spread into your forearm and wrist. Golfer's elbow — also known as medial epicondylitis — is similar to tennis elbow. But it occurs on the inside — rather than the outside — of your elbow. And it's not limited to golfers. Tennis players and others who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers also can develop golfer's elbow.
Golfer's elbow is characterized by:
- Pain and tenderness on the inner side of your elbow. Sometimes the pain extends along the inner side of your forearm.
- Stiffness. Your elbow may feel stiff, and it may hurt to make a fist.
- Weakness. You may have weakness in your hands and wrists.
- Numbness or tingling. Many people with golfer's elbow experience numbness or a tingling sensation that radiates into one or more fingers — usually the ring and little fingers.
The pain may get worse when you:
- Swing a golf club or racket
- Squeeze or pitch a ball
- Shake hands
- Turn a doorknob
- Pick up something with your palm down
- Flex your wrist toward your forearm
Golfer's elbow is caused by damage to the muscles and tendons that control your wrist and fingers. The damage is typically related to excess or repetitive stress — especially forceful wrist and finger motions. Sometimes golfer's elbow begins after a sudden force to the elbow or wrist. Many activities can lead to golfer's elbow, including:
- Golf. Gripping or swinging the clubs incorrectly can take a toll on your muscles and tendons.
- Racket sports. Excessive topspin can hurt your elbow. Using a racket that's too small, heavy or tightly strung also can lead to injury.
- Throwing sports. Improper pitching technique in baseball or softball can be another culprit.
- Other activities. Painting, raking, hammering, chopping wood, typing and other repetitive wrist, hand or arm movements can result in golfer's elbow as well.
Golfer's elbow is most common in men ages 20 to 49 — but the condition can affect anyone who repetitively stresses the wrists or fingers. Diagnosis: Golfer's Elbow is characterized by pain and tenderness on the inside part of the elbow. Direct pressure over the beginning portion of the muscles that control the wrist and hand reproduces the pain. Ruling out nerve injuries or other disorders around the elbow is also an important part of the examination process. Elbow X-rays are done to evaluate the bones surrounding the muscles. Rarely, an MRI may be ordered to rule out a large tendon tear.