Medial Epicondylitis

Updated: Apr 19, 2016
  • Author: Craig C Young, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Overview

Background

Medial epicondylitis, or "golfer's elbow," is similar to the more common lateral epicondylitis ("tennis elbow") in many respects. Both conditions are overuse tendinopathies that can be associated with racquet sports. Other activities with which medial epicondylitis are associated include golfing and throwing sports. Medial epicondylitis has also been reported in bowlers, archers, and weight lifters. [1, 2, 3]

Little leaguer's elbow is sometimes considered a variant of medial epicondylitis, but this condition is technically a traction apophysitis of the medial epicondyle, which requires a different treatment course.

For patient education resources, see the Hand, Wrist, Elbow, and Shoulder Center, as well as Tennis Elbow.

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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

Medial epicondylitis accounts for only 10-20% of all epicondylitis diagnoses [1] ; this condition is usually found in the dominant elbow of a golfer. [4] Tennis players who hit their forehand with a heavy topspin are also at increased risk for developing medial epicondylitis.

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Functional Anatomy

The medial epicondyle is the common origin of the forearm flexor and pronator muscles. The most common site of pathology is the interface between the pronator teres and the flexor carpi radialis origins. [5, 6] The flexor pronator muscle group serves as a secondary stabilizer of the medial elbow, assisting the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).

See the image below.

Medial epicondyle. Medial epicondyle.
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Sport-Specific Biomechanics

Immunohistologic studies have shown that long-standing epicondylitis is associated with a degenerative state instead of a traditional inflammatory process and probably should more accurately be called "epicondylosis." [7, 8] Valgus stresses are placed on the elbow by activities such as throwing and golfing; valgus stress on the medial elbow is especially high during the late cocking and acceleration phases of a throw and during a golf swing (from the top of the backswing to just before ball impact). [9]

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