Patient Information Resources

Alpine Physical Therapy
Three Locations
In North, South, and Downtown Missoula
Missoula, MT 59804
Ph: 406-251-2323
Fax: 406-251-2999

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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My elbow hurts every time I try to grip something tightly and sometimes I get numbness in my hand, could this be medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis is pain at the inner aspect of the elbow and is often referred to as golfers elbow. Symptoms are most common in adults age forty to sixty, during their peak working years, and are described as a burning or pain near the bony prominence on the medial aspect of the elbow joint that can radiate into the forearm. The pain is caused by repetitive microtrauma and degeneration of the common flexor tendon that can occur with repetitive loading during wrist flexion and forearm pronation, particularly if the elbow is also loaded into a valgus position. Stress in this position is common with overhead throwing motions, swinging a golf club or tennis racket, or in occupational setting that involve a strong grip such as hammering. Medial epicondylitis can sometimes be mistaken for ulnar neuritis, tendinopathy, ligamentous instability, joint pathology or trauma. Clinical presentation may include tenderness and swelling at or near the medial epicondyle. Pain can be reproduced with resisted wrist flexion, forearm pronation or gripping. These movements may also be identified as weak in comparison to the nonaffected arm. Though uncommon, range of motion can also be lost as the patient can present with a flexion contracture at the elbow that is in reaction to guarding against the pain. Ulnar neuritis and cervical radiculopathy are neurologic conditions that can often be mistaken for medial epicondylitis. Ulnar neuritis can be identified with a positive Tinel's sign or altered sensory with two point discrimination testing in the ulnar nerve distribution. Sensory changes can be reproduced with stress or pressure anywhere along the ulnar nerve path or by applying stress on the nerve by placing the elbow in maximal flexion, forearm pronation and wrist extension for 30-60 seconds.


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