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Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer and Baseball Elbow)

What is medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis is also known as golfer elbow, baseball elbow, suitcase elbow, or forehand tennis elbow. It causes pain from the elbow to the wrist on the inside (medial side) of the elbow. The pain is caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist toward the palm. A tendon is a tough cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones.

What causes medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis is caused when excessive force is used to bend the wrist toward the palm. This can happen when swinging a golf club or pitching a baseball. Other possible causes of medial epicondylitis include:

  • Serving with great force in tennis or using a spin serve

  • Weak shoulder and wrist muscles

  • Using a tennis racket that is too tightly strung or too short

  • Throwing a javelin

  • Carrying a heavy suitcase

  • Chopping wood with an ax

  • Using a chain saw

  • Frequent use of other hand tools on a continuous basis

What are the symptoms of medial epicondylitis?

The most common symptom of medial epicondylitis is pain along the palm side of the forearm, from the elbow to the wrist, on the same side as the little finger. The pain can be felt when bending the wrist toward the palm against resistance or when squeezing a rubber ball.

The symptoms of medial epicondylitis may look like other health problems or conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is medial epicondylitis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of medial epicondylitis often can be made based on a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may rest your arm on a table, palm side up, and ask you to raise your hand by bending your wrist against resistance. If you have medial epicondylitis, pain often is felt in the inner aspect of the elbow.

How is medial epicondylitis treated?

Treatment for medial epicondylitis includes stopping the activity that produces the symptoms. It is important to stop doing the movement that caused the condition in the first place. Treatment may include:

  • Ice packs to reduce inflammation

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Anti-inflammatory medicine

  • Bracing

  • Physical therapy

  • Corticosteroid injections

  • Surgery (rare)

What can I do to prevent medial epicondylitis?

Being aware of your daily movements can help prevent this condition. Some suggestions include:

  • Using correct form when doing repetitive activities such as work or sports movements

  • Keeping shoulders, forearms, and wrist muscles strong

  • Gently stretching forearm muscles before and after repetitive tasks

  • Using correct body mechanics when lifting or moving objects

Key points about medial epicondylitis

  • Medial epicondylitis causes pain from the elbow to the wrist on the inside (medial side) of the elbow.

  • It is more common in people who play golf or pitch baseball.

  • Treatment includes stopping the activity that caused the pain.

  • Using the correct form when doing repetitive activities can help prevent the condition.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N. Joseph, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/25/2018
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