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Medial Epicondylitis, aka. Golfers Elbow

About Golfers Elbow

golfer elbow anatomical image

Golfers Elbow (also known as forehand elbow, pitcher's elbow and bowler's elbow) is a form of tendinosis (chronic degeneration of the tendon) that is derived from swelling and tenderness on and around the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle (small bony part on the inside of your elbow). Golfers Elbow tendinosis is commonly caused from the overuse of the tendons and muscles located in your forearm (brachialis, brachioradialis, pronator teres and flexor carpi radialis) that help to pronate (close) your wrist and fingers. The wear and tear on these tendons is a result of small tears in your tissue that don't heal properly. The inability of your tendon to heal properly causes it to deteriorate until the tissues become very thin, and eventually wear out.

Chronic

Tendinosis will get worse over time if not dealt with properly. This is essentialy what chronic means; the inability to heal the tendinosis will cause it to persist for a very long period of time (ie. years). The main long-term problem associated with golfers elbow is failed healing, not inflammation; if you cannot rest the elbow while you are healing (ie. not doing the repetitive task that started it in the first place) then your odds of healing it for good are quite low.

Medial Epicondylitis is most common in the 20-49 age group, but the condition is certainly not limited to this group. Moreover, anyone who is prone to repetitive stress injuries is at risk. Cumulative stress, as with the majority of tendon issues, results in debilitating damage to the tendon and in Medial Epicondyle cases continual stress on the wrist extensors will prove detrimental to the healing of this area.

Tendinosis: What is it?

microscopic view of tendinosis

Tendonosis is a noninflammatory, degenerative condition of the collagen fibers in the tendon often caused by repetitive stress injury of the tendon fibers. As the collagen breaks down the typically straight and flexible fibers become a tangled mess with little pockets of jelly.

Tendonosis is caused by repetitive motion which causes an accumulation of microinjuries. The tendon tries to repair itself but eventually the breakdown of the collagen fibers exceeds the repair and the new collagen is produced with an abnormal structure and composition.

Unlike tendonitis, there are no inflammatory cells with a tendonosis injury making it hard to diagnose visually as there are no visible symptoms such as swelling, heat and redness. However, both injuries cause pain, tenderness and stiffness of the joints.

If not treated correctly the tendon will continue to degenerate causing further injury.

Alternate Names and/or Related Conditions of Elbow Tendinosis:

  • Epitrochlear bursitis
  • Acute elbow tendonitis
  • Olecranon bursitis
  • Wii elbow
  • Pitchers elbow
  • Plaster's elbow
  • Mechanic's elbow
  • Painter's elbow
  • Elbow strain
 
 
 
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