Elbow Tendinitis

What is Elbow Tendonitis?

Elbow tendonitis, also known as tennis elbow, is a swelling around the tendon that results in severe pain in the elbow and arm. A tendon is a group of tough tissue that links the muscles of the lower arm, to the bone. Despite it being called tennis elbow, you can still suffer from this condition, even without ever going near a tennis court. By indulging in any repetitive gripping activity that involves the use of your thumb and two fingers, you can suffer from elbow tendonitis. Elbow tendonitis is the major reason people seek help for elbow pain, and it can occur in people of any age, but is seen most frequently in people above 40 years of age.

Diagnosis for elbow tendonitis

A thorough examination is used to diagnose elbow tendonitis. Typically, you will be asked to move your wrist, arm and elbow, to observe where it hurts. Also, imaging tests such as an X-ray, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), will be used to identify damage, or rule out other problems.

Elbow-tendonitis FAQ’s

How do you treat tendonitis in the elbow?
In some cases, elbow tendonitis will heal on its own, you’ll just have to play your part, by giving the elbow the much-needed rest, and do what you can, to ensure a speedy recovery. The common treatment methods used include:

  • Putting ice on the elbow, to help reduce pain and swelling. Ideally, this procedure should be done for up to 30 minutes every 4 hours, until the pain is gone, which usually will be between 2 to 3 days.
  • Using an elbow strap, to prevent further strain on the injured tendon.
  • Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen, to help curb swelling and pain. This should be used under prescription and monitoring by a doctor, as they may produce side effects, such as bleeding and ulcers.
  • Indulging in some motion exercise, to increase flexibility.

Physical therapy, to help strengthen the muscle.

How long does tendonitis take to heal in the elbow?
Depending on the severity of the condition, you can gain recovery from mild soreness in the elbow, after 6 – weeks. However, chronic pain and soreness may take 6-12 months before recovery. In some rare cases, severe elbow tendonitis may last up to 2 years, and in cases like this, where improvement is no recorded after 6 – 12 months of rest and treatment, surgery may be the way out.
What happens if elbow tendonitis goes untreated?
Elbow tendonitis may become chronic if left untreated, and this further results in chronic constant pain that affects daily activities, and also difficulty in sleeping. In some cases, the pain can extend to other areas as well. Untreated elbow tendon also results in weakening of the tendon, also known as tendinosis or tendinopathy, ruptured tendon and permanent damage to the tissues.
Does elbow tendonitis go away on its own?
Elbow tendonitis involves inflammation of the tendon. Leaving it untreated, and working through the pain, with the hope that it goes on its own, can delay healing and make your symptoms worse. In the long run, it may eventually heal on its own, but to avoid complications and delayed recovery, it is advised that you seek treatment.
Will elbow tendonitis require surgery?
Most cases of elbow tendonitis can be treated with rest, relaxation and physical therapy. However, in a severe case of elbow tendonitis, characterized by a ruptured tendon, surgery may be required, and this will be decided by the doctor.
How do you reduce tendon inflammation?
Inflammation in the tendon can be reduced by applying ice, using non-steroidal pain relief medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and acetaminophen, and wrapping the area in a bandage, until the pain goes away.

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