What is elbow tendinopathy?
Elbow tendinopathy is a condition that causes elbow pain and forearm weakness. The word “tendinopathy” refers to a problem with a tendon. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Depending on which elbow tendon is injured, the condition is also known as “tennis elbow” or “golf elbow.” Doctors also used to call this condition “tendinitis.”
What causes tendinopathy in the elbow?
People who use their elbow and forearm frequently for work or other activities may develop this problem as they age. It may also occur when someone is injured or repeatedly performs the same motions.
The swinging action people utilize in both games, which can result in tendinopathy, is referred to as “tennis elbow” and “golf elbow.” But if they require similar movements, other tasks or jobs may potentially contribute to this issue.
Which signs and symptoms accompany elbow tendinopathy?
The most frequent signs are:
- Elbow pain: The primary sign of elbow tendinopathy is pain in the elbow. Pain can begin gradually or abruptly, and it might be minor or severe. It might spread to the forearm or upper arm. The tendon is most frequently in pain when it is being used or stretched.
- Muscle weakness: When you grab or squeeze anything, you might experience muscle weakness in your forearms
- Swelling: The area around the elbow may experience slight swelling in some persons.
Do I require any tests?
You might. Through conversation with you and physical examination, your doctor or nurse should be able to determine whether you have elbow tendinopathy. To learn more about the movements or activities that hurt, they could ask you to do particular arm motions.
In some circumstances, the physician might additionally order an imaging examination, such an ultrasound.
Treatment options for elbow tendinopathy
Although this ailment typically improves on its own, full recovery can take many months. In order to improve, you can:
- Rest your elbow and arm: Try to avoid or scale back on any activities that make your pain worse, if at all feasible.
- Wear a brace or sleeve: Ask your doctor or nurse about whether you should wear a brace or sleeve. Your elbow can be supported and pain-free by donning a customized brace or “compression sleeve.” When you use your arm, these help to lessen the tension on the tendon.
- Take analgesic medication: Your physician could advise that you take a medication like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
- Put ice on your elbow: After engaging in activities that make your pain worse, applying ice to your elbow may assist. Every one to two hours, apply a cold gel pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables to the region for 15 minutes. Place a towel between the ice (or other cold object) and your skin.
Stretch your lower arm muscles; this can be beneficial. Depending on whatever tendon, you can perform the following stretches at home:
- Tennis elbow stretch: Hold the affected arm straight out in front of you while pointing your fingers toward the floor. Grab this hand with your other hand while maintaining pressure on the palm with your thumb. then exert pressure on the hand’s back to further flex the wrist. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds. Stretch three times more. Use this exercise once every day.
- Golf elbow stretch – Position yourself so that the injured arm is closest to the wall and you are an arm’s length away from it. Pointing your fingers downward, place your palm on the wall. To stretch your muscles, gently press against the wall. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds. Stretch three times more. Use this exercise once every day.
- Attend physical therapy; you’ll learn specialized exercises to address your ailments. Depending on which elbow tendon is affected, the best exercises for you will vary. Strengthening the forearm muscles through other activities is possible. You can learn how to perform these exercises from your physician, nurse, or physical therapist. They will advise you on when to begin and how frequently to practice them.
What if my symptoms don’t go away?
Consult your doctor or nurse if your symptoms have not improved after performing your workouts for at least 8 to 12 weeks. They may offer different therapies that could be beneficial. To rule out other potential causes of your symptoms, they might also want to do imaging tests like an ultrasound or X-ray.
Surgery is a rare kind of treatment for elbow tendinopathy. If alternative therapies do not work after several months, this might be taken into account. But in most cases, the problem will improve on its own without surgery.
Can elbow tendonitis be avoided?
Yes. There are several ways to help prevent elbow tendinopathy:
- Take breaks when you do activities in which you move your elbow and wrist a lot.
- When lifting something or working out, keep your elbows slightly bent.
- When using tools, wear gloves or use two hands.
- Use a two-handed backhand swing when playing tennis.
- If you play golf, protect your golf clubs’ grips with grip tape or padding.