Medial Lateral Epicondylitis
The elbow bends and extends as well as rotates to a degree. This joint is held in its position through a combination of ligaments and includes a system of blood vessels, muscles and nerves. Movement of the hand and wrist originates from the elbow. There are two major muscles groups involved with this movement known as flexor, which is responsible for helping the hand form a fist, and the extensor, which is involved with extending the fingers and bending the wrist in an upward direction.
Medial and Lateral Epicondylitis are respectively known as golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow. They are thought to be caused by an overload of injuries to the flexor or extensor muscles of an individual’s forearm.
Tennis elbow is caused by an inflammation of the extensor muscles and leads to tenderness and pain in the upper and lateral, or outer, epicondyle. It is considered that it occurs after repeated stress of the tendon and muscle.
Golfer’s elbow begins when inflammation occurs in the flexor forearm muscles and results in medial, or inner, elbow pain. This too is caused by repeated stress of the muscles and tendons of the medial epicondyle portion of the arm.
Any repeated stress or strain to the forearm extensors or flexors of the arm put individuals at risk of developing Medial and Lateral Epicondylitis. Those activities include racquetball, tennis, golf, driving, working at a computer, and many others. Acute trauma to this area of the body such as being involved in a traffic accident can cause this condition.
Each condition, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, presents with symptoms of pain and tenderness in the area of the elbow and beyond. With tennis elbow, this pain can extend to the wrist and middle finger when flexed. Typically, a tender spot is readily identified just under the lateral epicondyle on the outer side of the elbow. In each case, pain develops gradually and is aggravated through continued use of the muscles in question. Pain from golfer’s elbow occurs over the medial epicondyle and then radiates to the forearm upon flexing and extending the wrist.
Treatment options for Medial and Lateral Epicondylitis involves restricting activity of the affected areas and applying ice after exercise. Modifications are also recommended to make the workplace environment more ergonomically correct. Rehabilitative exercises are also recommended to strengthen the muscles and tendons in the affected area. NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are given for immediate relief of pain, but there is no evidence that long-term use is effective in eliminating the problems. Injection of steroids into the site of tenderness has limited effects and has the potential for unwanted side effects.
Both of these conditions are self-limiting in nature and can last from six months to two years in duration.