Elbow Tendonitis – Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow
Elbow tendonitis, also called tennis elbow, is swelling of the tendons that produces elbow and arm pain. The tendons of the elbow are tough bands of tissue that connect the lower arm muscles to the bone. While elbow tendonitis does occur from playing tennis, it also occurs from any repetitive gripping activity, where the thumb and two fingers are over used. While tennis elbow is more common in middle-aged people, it can occur at any age.
What causes tennis elbow?
Elbow tendonitis usually develops over time from constant repetitive motions, such as gripping a racket or constant tugging. This action stresses and strains the tendons and tissues, and can even result in microscopic tears in the elbow structures. Common causes of tennis elbow are tennis, racquetball, squash, fencing, weight lifting, knitting, raking, painting, carpentry, and typing.
What are the symptoms of elbow tendonitis?
The symptoms of elbow tendonitis include tenderness and pain of the knob of the elbow, which is where the injured tendons attach to the bone. The pain of is worse when making a fist, gripping an object, lifting something, raising your hand, or straightening your wrist.
How does the doctor diagnose elbow tendonitis?
To diagnose elbow tendonitis, the doctor will do a comprehensive examination and take a history of illness. In addition, he will order certain imaging tests, such as x-rays and MRIs to rule out complications.
What is the treatment for elbow tendonitis?
There are several measures to take to relieve the pain of tennis elbow. These include:
- Elbow strap – Used to protect the injured tendon from further strain. This is called counterforce bracing.
- Icing the elbow – Done for 20 minutes every three hours to reduce pain and swelling.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Include ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and other agents.
- Range of motion exercises – These reduce stiffness and increase flexibility.
- Physical therapy – This treatment is ordered to stretch and strengthen muscles.
- Steroid injections – When administered into the joint, these can ease pain and swelling.
- PRP Therapy – platelet rich plasma therapy has been shown to be a low risk, effective alternative for all types of elbow tendonitis. Prior to considering surgery, PRP therapy may be an excellent alternative.
When can I return to work or sports activities?
After the Colorado pain doctor has treated a patient for elbow tendonitis, getting back to regular activities depends on the severity of the condition and the health of the individual. Most people can return to work when the elbow is no longer swollen, the elbow can move and flex without difficulty, the injured elbow is strong, and the patient can grip objects without pain.
What is involved in surgery for elbow tendonitis?
If the symptoms of elbow tendonitis persist and nonsurgical measures do not work, surgery may be necessary. The procedure involves removing diseased muscle and reattaching healthy tissue back to bone. The open surgery procedure is done on an outpatient basis, so there is no hospital stay. The arthroscopic technique is done with tiny instruments and small incisions.
How can I prevent elbow tendonitis?
There are several things to reduce the chance of developing elbow tendonitis. These include:
- Avoiding activities that place excessive stress on the tendons for prolonged periods.
- Improving your technique in exercise or activity.
- Stretching before exercise to maximize the joint’s range of motion.
- Use proper work ergonomics, such as adjusting chairs, keyboards, and desktops for proper height.
- Preparing the muscles for activities through strengthening exercises.