Documenting and Reporting Medial Epicondylitis – Know the ICD-10 Codes

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Resources | 0 comments

Medial epicondylitis is a condition that is marked by inflammation or irritation of a tendon. The condition causes pain where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump inside the elbow. Also referred to as Golfers Elbow, the condition may affect any person who performs an activity that involves a continual strain on the wrist and forearm. In this condition, overuse or other injuries may cause small tears in the tendon that connects the elbow to the wrist. These tears may cause severe pain and swelling of the tendons. Unlike tennis elbow (which occurs on the outside of the elbow), golfers’ elbow is not limited to golfers. Persons who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers can also develop this condition. Taking adequate amount of rest and undergoing treatment modalities can help reduce the severity of symptoms in the long run. Billing and coding for this type of tendinitis can be challenging and physicians typically utilize the services of a professional orthopedics medical billing company for the same.

Medial epicondylitis accounts for about 10 to 20 percent of all epicondylitis and is common among people aged 45-65 years; it is more common in women than men. Excess or repeated stress (particularly forceful wrist and finger motions) can cause damage to the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers. Over time, these damages can lead to swelling and pain. Improper lifting, throwing or hitting, as well as too little warm-up or poor conditioning, can contribute to golfer’s elbow. The condition usually affects athletes or other people engaged in activities like golf, racket sports, weight training, throwing sports and other forceful, repetitive occupational movements (that occur in fields such as construction, plumbing and carpentry).

What Are the Typical Symptoms?

Symptoms of medial epicondylitis may develop slowly. In some other cases, symptoms may develop suddenly (especially in the event of injury). The symptoms may range from mild or severe and these include –

  • Pain when shaking hands
  • Pain when flexing the wrist toward the forearm
  • Pain that extends from the inside of the elbow through the wrist to the pinky
  • Difficulty moving the elbow
  • A weakened wrist
  • A weak grip
  • A tingling sensation extending from the elbow to the ring and pinky fingers
  • A stiff elbow

Diagnosis of this condition is based on a detailed medical history review and physical examination. To evaluate the amount of pain and stiffness, the physician may apply pressure to the affected area or ask patients to move the elbow, wrist and fingers in various ways. Imaging tests like X-rays will be performed to rule out the other causes of elbow pain, such as fracture or arthritis. In some rare cases, more comprehensive imaging studies such as MRI will be performed. The initial mode of treatment begins with adequate body rest and avoiding activities that causes pain. Avoiding sports activities like golf game or other repetitive activities until the pain is gone, icing the affected area, performing stretching and strengthening exercises, and using a brace can help prevent the intensity of the condition. Physicians will also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

Orthopedists and other specialists who diagnose, screen and treat medial epicondylitis must carefully document all tests and procedures using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services ensure that the correct codes are reported on the medical claims. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing Medial epicondylitis include –

  • M77 – Other enthesopathies
  • M77.0 – Medial epicondylitis
  • M77.00 – Medial epicondylitis, unspecified elbow
  • M77.01 – Medial epicondylitis, right elbow
  • M77.02 – Medial epicondylitis, left elbow

Chances of full recovery from medial epicondylitis are good. There are several ways to prevent the condition. One important way of prevention is to strengthen the related muscles by doing exercises. Also, the patients should apply ice to the injury, stretch the arm, and practice strengthening exercises, to encourage healing and prevent a recurrence of medial epicondylitis.

Relying on the services of an experienced orthopedic medical coding company is important to document golfers’ elbow correctly. Coders in reliable medical billing outsourcing companies would ensure accurate reporting of diagnostic details and this in turn will help avoid denied and delayed claims.

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