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Elbow Tendonitis Treatment

Elbow Tendonitis Treatment

An inflammation of the tendons that attach muscles to the bones in the elbow can causes severe elbow pain. This HealthHearty article describes how tendonitis treatment involves a team approach. The treatment involves simple self care and use of medication suggested by a physician, and performing exercises as advised by a physical therapist. Sometimes, surgery is the only option.
Kanika Khara
Tendons are cords of tough, fibrous connective tissues, that connect muscles to bones. Tendonitis is basically inflammation or irritation of the tendons, which may lead to severe pain and discomfort in the affected area. Elbow tendonitis or tennis elbow is usually the inflammation of the tendons of your forearm muscles that attach to a bony bump on the outer part of your elbow. Sudden increase in the intensity of an exercise, repetitive movement (flexing, gripping, or swinging) of the wrist over a prolonged period, injury, vitamin deficiency, genetic abnormalities, aging, etc. are some common causes for elbow tendonitis. Overuse can damage forearm muscles and tendons. Pulls or tiny tears in the tendons lead to swelling and pain in the elbow. The pain due to golfer's elbow centers on the inside of your elbow, and may spread towards the forearm.
Research shows that nearly half of the tennis players usually suffer elbow tendinitis at some point in their life. Most elbow tendonitis patients suffer intense pain on the outer or top part of the elbow, which may radiate further up to the forearm, and occasionally even to the hand. The patients may experience pain and uneasiness while performing any elbow activity like grasping or holding an object. Along with this, the patient may also suffer a burning or hot sensation around the elbow area, which may also be accompanied by a feeling of weakness, especially at night or after any physical activity.
Treatment for Elbow Tendonitis
Elbow tendonitis treatment involves curing and rebuilding the affected area. The ultimate aim of the treatment is to reduce the inflammation or swelling, and relieve pain. With proper care and treatment, tendonitis pain usually lessens within 2-3 weeks, but needs more time (nearly 6 weeks) to recover completely.
Medicines
Before referring any medications, the doctor will conduct some tests like X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound to examine the affected area. He may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, that will help relieve tendonitis pain by dilating the blood vessels, and reducing the stiffness of the elbow tissues. In severe cases, he may even give weak steroid injections that will help rebuild and strengthen the area. The patients may also have to use braces or straps to limit movement and support the tendons. Quite often, ultrasound is employed by doctors to break down the scar tissue around the tendon. Ultrasound uses sound waves, that vibrate at a very high intensity to improve circulation, and soften the affected area. Narrow beams of light (lasers) as well as extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) are also used to treat tendonitis. However, in extreme cases where the condition cannot be treated by any other method, surgery is the only resort left.
Self Care
R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is the most commonly used treatment to cure elbow tendonitis. Basically, it means rest your elbow and avoid straining it, apply ice pack several times a day for 15 - 20 minutes, to reduce pain and inflammation in the area. Wrapping the affected area with a simple ace bandage, and keeping the elbow at an elevated level helps in relieving pain and swelling. Another method of treatment is massage therapy, which prevents development of new scar tissues, and breaks down the existing scar tissues around the elbow. It is the best way to ease the pain of tendonitis. It helps the tendons in recovery. If possible, along with massage therapy, perform light stretching, resistance, and strengthening exercises, but with caution.
Surgery
If the symptoms of elbow tendonitis do not respond to medication and other treatments, the doctor may recommend surgery. During the surgery, the damaged tendons are removed, and healthy muscle is attached to the bone. Depending upon various factors, the patient will be able to return to sports as early as 4 months. Exercises performed during the rehabilitation process help restore the flexibility of the elbow.
While following any of the above treatments, make sure that you give tendons enough time to recover before returning to the activities that caused pain initially. Hence, the key to successful elbow tendonitis treatment is patience and precaution. Warming up the tendons before and after exercising and strengthening them with resistance training helps lower the risk of having elbow tendonitis in future.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.