- Who Gets It?
What is tendonitis in the elbow?
Tendons are the soft tissue that connects your muscles to your bones. They are tough but flexible and can be large or small depending on the area of the body. When tendons become inflamed, irritated, or undergo microscopic tears, this is called tendonitis.
A common type of tendonitis is lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow or elbow tendinopathy. Tennis elbow causes pain in the backside of your elbow and forearm. This is due to damage in the tendons that bend your wrist back and away from the palm of your hand.
Symptoms of tendonitis in the elbow
Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:
Causes of tendonitis in the elbow
Tennis elbow is most commonly caused by overuse and/or muscle strain. Repeated motions and stress may result in a series of tiny tears. These are micro-tears in the tendons that attach your forearm muscles to the bony protrusion at the outside of your elbow, also known as your funny bone.
Playing sports like tennis or racquetball with poor technique is the most common cause of tennis elbow.
Who gets tendonitis in the elbow?
Tendonitis of the elbow is very common in tennis players and other athletes. Individuals who participate in other activities that require repetitive and vigorous use of the forearm, wrist, and/or hand are also at risk.
Occupations such as auto repair professionals, butchers, cooks, carpenters, painters, and plumbers are all more prone to developing tennis elbow than the average person.
Individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 are more likely to get tennis elbow, but it can occur at any age.
Diagnosis for tendonitis in the elbow
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose tendonitis in your elbow. Your doctor will want to examine your arm in addition to asking about your medical history, occupation, and physical activities.
Your doctor may recommend the following tests to rule out other causes of your elbow pain:
Treatments for tendonitis in the elbow
There are several treatments available for tennis elbow. Most patients recover without surgery.
Your doctor may recommend you do the following:
- Ice: Apply a cold pack or bag of ice with light pressure on your elbow for 15 minutes at a time. You can ice three to four times a day.
- Improve Technique/Form: Ensure that your tennis strokes or other relevant motions adhere to proper form and technique.
- Rest: Avoid any activities or movements that aggravate your elbow tendonitis pain.
There are various other non-surgical treatment options for tendonitis in the elbow, including:
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy exercises can help alleviate elbow tendonitis pain. They can also improve your strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Your physical therapist may also perform massage, electrical stimulation, and other techniques to promote healing.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP): PRP is a treatment designed to improve the biologic environment of the tissue. Platelets are known for their high concentration of growth factors, which can be injected into the affected area. PRP involves injections of a concentration of the patient's own platelets to accelerate healing.
- Steroid injections: Steroid injections such as cortisone injections are effective anti-inflammatory treatments.
- Using a brace: Using a brace can reduce symptoms by allowing the muscles and tendons of the elbow and forearm to rest.
Another alternative for treatment is called extracorporeal shock wave therapy. It is a relatively new non-invasive therapeutic procedure. This shock wave therapy induces micro-trauma to the affected tissue. The tissue responds to this by healing itself.
If your symptoms of elbow tendonitis do not improve after 6 to 12 months of treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The most common surgical approach is called open surgery. This procedure involves making an incision over the elbow to remove the damaged muscle and tissue. Healthy muscle is then reattached to the bone. Open surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure.
Tennis elbow can also be repaired using small incisions and tiny instruments with arthroscopic surgery. Like open surgery, it is an outpatient procedure.
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best surgical approach for you.
Harvard Health Publishing: "Tendonitis."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Tendonitis."
OrthoInfo: "Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)."
Top How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Elbow Related Articles
Dislocated ElbowAn elbow dislocation occurs when the radius and/or ulna becomes displaced from the humerus. Typically, falls cause dislocated elbows. Signs and symptoms include pain, visible deformity, an audible pop, swelling, and an inability to move the elbow. Treatment may incorporate pain medications, reduction of the elbow joint, and wearing an elbow brace to protect the joint as it heals.
Elbow PainElbow pain is most often the result of tendinitis, which can affect the inner or outer elbow. Treatment includes ice, rest, and medication for inflammation. Inflammation, redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion are other symptoms associated with elbow pain. Treatment for elbow pain depends upon the nature of the patient's underlying disease or condition.
First Aid Sprains/StrainsView this First Aid slideshow on Care and Pain Relief. See how to get pain relief if you've bumped your head, sprained your ankle, or had a bruise, strain, or some other minor injury.
How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Ankle?Learn about the causes and symptoms of tendonitis in the ankle and treatment options.
How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Foot?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your symptoms of tendonitis in the foot and help you manage tendonitis in the foot. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed and causes pain from repetitive movement. Learn the types of tendonitis, how it happens, and how to treat it.
All About CBD OilCannabidiol oil: It's made from marijuana and everyone seems to be talking about it. But what is it, and what does it really do?
Pain QuizIs pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we call pain.
Pain Management: Surprising Causes of PainWhat's causing your pain? Learn the common causes of lower back pain, as well as pain in the knee, stomach, kidney, shoulder, chest, gallbladder, heel, sciatic nerve, neck, hip, foot and other parts of the body. Find pain management tips that work to help lower pain triggers, as well as other pain treatments.
What Is the Reduction of a Radial Head Subluxation (Nursemaid’s Elbow)?A radial head subluxation occurs when the radius bone slips partially out of the elbow joint. It is known as a nursemaid’s elbow. It occurs most commonly in children, particularly below six years of age.
15 Ways to Reduce PainChronic pain can be a symptom of many conditions, including arthritis, headaches, and others. Comprehensive chronic pain management therapy may include physical therapy, lifestyle strategies such as exercise, diet changes, meditation, journaling, medications, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco use. Make helpful changes to manage your chronic condition.
What Is the Reduction of Posterior Elbow Dislocation?The posterior elbow is dislocated when you fall on your extended arm. It is more common in adolescent athletes, particularly those who are engaged in sports such as football and wrestling.
What is Reduction of Radial Head (Elbow) Dislocation?The reduction of dislocation is a procedure to manipulate the bones back to their normal position. If this is performed externally, that is, without opening the arm, it is known as closed reduction.
Sprains and StrainsAn injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
What Is a Posterior Elbow Splint?A posterior elbow splint is affixed to the arm to stabilize a dislocated elbow. A splint is a type of a medical tool made of rigid material to immobilize a fractured or dislocated bone. A splint usually helps to maintain any part of the body in a fixed position. The most common use of splints is in emergency settings to keep a broken bone in position until it heals or until a doctor can set it with a more comprehensive procedure.
When Are Elbow and Above-Elbow Amputations Performed?The surgical removal of an elbow or the arm above the elbow joint is called elbow amputation. Elbow and above-elbow amputations may be performed for the following reasons: peripheral vascular disease (PVD), risk factors include diabetes and blood clots, osteomyelitis (an infection in the bones), severe injury or accidents, surgery to remove tumors or infected area from bones and muscles. The complications are generally prevented or successfully managed.