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How is Medial Epicondylitis Diagnosed?

man with elbow pain Medial epicondylitis – more commonly known as golfer’s elbow – is a condition that causes pain on the inside of the elbow. Although it’s common for golfers and other athletes, anyone can get golfer’s elbow, especially if their jobs or hobbies require repetitive motions.

In this blog, Dr. Ather Mirza and Dr. Justin Mirza, orthopedic physicians at Mirza Orthopedics, explain how a diagnosis of medial epicondylitis is made.

What is medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis is characterized by pain that occurs when the tendons that bend your wrist toward your palm become damaged.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of  medial epicondylitis include the following:

  • Pain that goes from the inside of your forearm to your wrist (on the same side as your little finger)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Pain when shaking hands or squeezing a rubber ball
  • Pain when you’re bending your hand toward your wrist with your palm down
  • A weak grasp

What are the causes?

When the muscles in your forearm that attach to the bone on the inside of your elbow are overused or used in correctly during certain sports or activities, small tears can develop in the tendons. The tears try to heal, but they’re under constant strain that continues to injure them, and scar tissue eventually develops, causing weakness and pain.

This injury can result from overdoing or using a poor form in the following:

  • Golf
  • Throwing sports such as baseball and football
  • Racquet sports, including tennis
  • Weight training

In addition, it can result from repeated motions in the following professions or activities:

  • Painting
  • Plumbing
  • Doing construction work
  • Using a computer
  • Working on an assembly line
  • Cooking

You’re more likely to develop golfer’s elbow if you’re over 40 and/or have weak forearm muscles.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will talk to you about your medical history as well as your pain. You’ll be asked how your pain and any weakness affects you and your ability to carry out your regular activities.

A physical exam is also conducted, with your doctor testing your wrist and forearm strength. An MRI scan or ultrasound can also aid in diagnosing golfer’s elbow. X-rays and other tests may also be ordered to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

What are the treatment options?

Conservative treatment options are tried first, and they’re often successful. Options may include the following:

  • Avoiding activities that cause symptoms
  • Bracing your elbow in order to rest it
  • Using anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin
  • Receiving a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation
  • Performing exercises to stretch and strengthen the tendons
  • Using ice, heat, or ultrasound

If conservative treatments don’t stop the pain or help you regain your strength and mobility within six months to a year, surgery may be needed.

If you’re experiencing pain or weakness in your wrist, forearm, or elbow, make an appointment today with Mirza Orthopedics. We’ll gather the information needed to make a correct diagnosis and start treatment to help you regain your active, pain-free lifestyle.

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