Tendonitis elbow


Tendonitis elbow is a painful condition that results from the overexertion of the tendons in the elbow. The tendons generally tend to get overworked due to repetitive motions of the arm and wrist. Most cases of tendonitis elbow are caused due to the use of poor technique while trying to execute a tennis backhand. Additionally, there are several occupations that require repetitive action of the arms and wrist that can lead to tendonitis elbow.

The pain associated with tendonitis elbow is primarily focused in the area where the prominent bony part on the outside of the elbow attaches to the tendons on the forearm muscles. This pain may disperse to other areas such as the wrist and forearm.

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The symptoms of tendonitis elbow can be alleviated with the use of painkillers and complete rest. In case, such traditional treatment methods don’t work, or if the symptoms are severely impairing, then one can under surgery to treat the condition.

Symptoms of tendonitis elbow

It is essential that one knows and recognizes the symptoms of tendonitis elbow very early. Early diagnosis and treatment of the condition usually results in complete healing of the injury without the need to see a doctor.

Some of the symptoms of tendonitis elbow are listed below:

  • The pain is first felt just below the elbow joint
  • The pain that one feels with the condition may spread from the outside part of the elbow to the wrist and forearm. Such weakness and pain may result in difficulties while turning a doorknob, shaking hands or holding a coffee mug.
  • There may be inflammation of the elbow region
  • Individuals may experience pain while trying to extend the arm after and/or during physical activities or exercise
  • People may have sensations of heat or burning around the affected region, particularly after exercise.
  • When individuals try to bend their elbow against resistance, there may be stiffness. Such stiffness may be felt even without resistance in severe cases of tendonitis elbow
  • Patients may experience pain during the night or just after waking up
  • Untreated cases of tendonitis elbow can lead to prolonged and chronic pain, especially when gripping or lifting objects. The condition can also get aggravated if individuals engage in strenuous activities before it has completely healed

Causes of tendonitis elbow

Tendonitis elbow is an injury caused due to muscle strain and overuse. The forearm muscles are used to straighten and lift or raise the wrist and hand. Repeated contraction of these forearm muscles is the cause of the trauma. Such repeated stress to the tissue can eventually result in inflammation or a chain of tiny tears in the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the prominent bone on the outside of the elbow.

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Some of the causes of tendonitis elbow are listed below:

  • One of the possible causes of the excessive stress on the tendons is the use of poor technique while executing a tennis backhand.

Other causes that lead to repetitive motions of the arms are activities such as

  • Painting
  • The use of plumbing equipments
  • Driving of screws
  • Excessive use of mouse, keyboard and the computer
  • Slicing and dicing of cooking ingredients, especially meat

There are several factors that increase the risk towards developing tendonitis elbow. Some of them are as follows:

  • The occupation: Individuals with jobs that involve repeated use of the arms to carry out the work are at increased vulnerability to developing tendonitis elbow. Examples of some occupations are painters, cooks, carpenters, plumbers and butchers.
  • Age: Tendonitis elbow tends to affect individuals of all ages. However, persons who are at an increased age between the late 30s and 50s are at greater risk to developing the condition
  • Certain games and sports that involve the use of a racquet require repeated motions of the arms. Engaging in such sports increases the risk to tendonitis elbow, especially when poor stroke techniques are employed.

Treatment of tendonitis elbow

Tendonitis elbow may be treated in the following ways:

Most cases of tendonitis elbow are resolved with rest and intake of painkillers to reduce the pain. If the issue persists, then patients may undergo physical therapy that involves-

  • Doctors may ask the patients to consult experts who will evaluate the work tasks or tennis techniques and advise on the best ways to decrease stress on the affected tissue.
  • Doctors may advise the use of a brace or a forearm strap to alleviate stress on the affected tissue
  • The patients may be taught certain exercises that will assist in the strengthening and stretching of the muscles, especially the forearm muscles
  • In case the above steps do not help in the healing process, then surgery may be required to repair the damaged tissue. Rehabilitation is very essential after the surgery for successful recovery from the injury.

Patients may also follow the directions for R.I.C.E., i.e., rest, ice, compression, elevation for treating tendonitis elbow

  • Rest the elbow, but need not avoid all activity.
  • Use Ice in various ways such as ice pack, ice bath, etc. to reduce the swelling from the injury.
  • Use a bandage or an elastic wrap to Compress the affected area
  • Keep the elbow Elevated above the level of the heart whenever possible to limit and prevent swelling
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