6 Effective Ways to Treat Elbow Tendon and Tendonitis

What is Tendonitis in Elbow?

Quick answer, the elbow has several major tendons that attach near it. These elbow tendons include the:

  • Common extensor tendon.
  • Common flexor tendon.
  • Biceps tendon.Labeled diagram of the elbow anatomy tendons showing elbow pain from tennis elbow or Golfer's elbow. JOI Rehab.Anatomy of Tennis Elbow.

Tendinitis of the elbow is typically associated with the first two. Tendonitis of the common extensor tendon is known as Tennis Elbow. Tendinitis of the common flexor tendon is known as Golfer’s Elbow.

Tendons are bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. What is tendonitis in the elbow? Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon. It can cause inside elbow pain in the tendon or the surrounding area and may limit daily activity. Tendonitis may involve tiny tears in the tendon. How to treat tendonitis of the elbow varies depending on the severity of the injury and the injury's nature.  Often we are asked if a tennis elbow brace works.  

What are the Causes of Tendonitis in the Elbow Tendons?

The quick answer is that elbow tendonitis may be caused by:

  • Repetitive movement.
  • Heavy lifting.
  • Squeezing and twisting movements.
  • Computer use.
  • Gardening.
  • Painting.
  • Tennis.
  • Golf.

illustration of the human elbow elbow bones and elbow muscle anatomy. JOI RehabAnatomy of elbow tendons

What does Tendonitis in the Elbow Feel Like?

Quick answer, symptoms of this condition include feeling pain and tenderness on the bony part of the outside of the elbow. Even though the injury is to the elbow, pain can be aggravated by doing things with your hands. This is because you use your tendons when using your hands, which causes pain to radiate up into your elbow.  

Do I Have Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow?

Man in white suffering elbow pain as a result of tennis elbow. JOI RehabTennis elbow pain is on the outside of the elbow

Tennis Elbow is on the outside of the elbow, and Golfer’s Elbow is on the inside part of the elbow.

A backhand in tennis requires a stable wrist. Over time, this places stress through the tendons in the back of the wrist.  This may lead to tendonitis at the elbow or tendinitis of the wrist. However, tennis is not usually the main cause of Tennis Elbow. So, what can you do for tennis elbow? The quick answer to that is that it depends. You can find some home treatments in the section below.

Swinging a golf club can put stress on the inside of the elbow and lead to inside elbow pain. This is rarely the cause, though.  

Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow are both types of tendonitis. They can be caused by repetitive stress or vibration.

Watch this VIDEO why tennis elbow pain can't wait for treatment.

Can Shoulder Exercises help Elbow Tendon Pain?

Exercises for the shoulders are important for those with Elbow tendonitis.  This is because the pain in the elbow can lead to decreased use of the entire arm.  Lack of arm use can cause weakness and stiffness to develop in the shoulder. So, if you have elbow tendonitis, keep the shoulder moving.  It may not directly affect the elbow pain, but it can help to prevent other issues from developing. 

Tendonitis Elbow Brace for Tennis Elbow Pain

As stated above, a tendinitis elbow brace can help with Tennis Elbow Pain. To learn more, go to TENNIS ELBOW BRACES.

How do You Fix Tendon Pain in the Elbow? 

The quick answer to how to treat tendonitis of the elbow or tendon pain in the elbow is found below:

  1. Rest: from activity that increases the pain, take a few days to a few weeks off. This may allow the inflammation to progress through the normal healing process.
  2. Anti-inflammatory medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help decrease pain. There are risk factors, though, and it is important to speak to your physician before beginning any medications, even if they are over the counter.
  3. Ice: Cold packs help to decrease pain and limit damage to surrounding tissue. Cold packs or ice should be used for 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Bracing: An elbow brace may temporarily limit painful activity but should not typically be used at all times. A tennis elbow brace applies pressure to the elbow tendon and helps change the tendon's forces
  5. Stretching" Stretching the wrist into flexion or extension can help to stimulate the injured tendons and promote mobility and healing.  Hold stretches for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. You should feel tension but not severe pain.
  6. Massage: Gently rubbing the painful tendon can help to stimulate healing and breakdown scar tissue.  Try massaging the tendon in various directions. Watch this VIDEO for information on JOI's Medical Massage Therapy Services.
  7. Dry Needling: JOI Rehab Clinicians can provide Dry Needling at 3 Locations.  Please call one of these offices: San Marco, World Golf and Nassau. 

Man in blue holding his tennis elbow with an elbow brace for elbow pain treatments. JOI Rehab 

Tennis elbow brace

Does an Elbow Brace Help Tendonitis?

Bracing for tendonitis of the elbow can limit the amount of stress on the injured area and allow it to heal properly.  A cushioned Velcro elbow strap (Chopat Strap) is common. The strap applies pressure over the tendons near the outside of the elbow and alters the direction of the pull on those tendons. Thus, decreasing the stress on the injured area.

How Long Does it Take for Elbow Tendons to Heal?

The quick answer to how long it takes for your elbow tendons to heal is dependent on the severity of the injury. Many people feel better in as little as a couple of weeks, but it may take 6 months to a year for the tendon to fully heal. Surgery is rarely needed, but some doctors may use a corticosteroid shot to help you start rehabilitation.

How is Elbow Tendonitis Diagnosed?

To diagnose your elbow tendonitis, your doctor will perform a thorough physical exam. The doctor will have you bend your arm, wrist, and elbow to see where the pain is located. Your physician will also determine if you also need tests, such as X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound, to diagnose your elbow tendinitis. how to treat tendonitis of the elbow

What if the Home Remedy for Elbow Tendonitis Does Not Work?

What to do for tennis elbow often depends on who you talk to. Physical therapy is a great option to treat elbow tendonitis. There are different treatments for the various sources of elbow pain. Massage and stretching can improve the mobility of the tissue. Education is important in treating elbow pain. Physical Therapists use a variety of treatment options, including:

Elbow tendonitis pain can be treated with laserElbow tendonitis pain can be reduced with laser treatment

The Graston method helps reduce elbow pain caused by tendonitis in addition to elbow brace for tendonitisThe Graston method helps reduce elbow tendonitis pain

  • Electrical Stimulation.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Moist Heat Packs.
  • Massage.
  • Exercises.

Related Article: Tennis Elbow Defined.

Book an Appointment Online with The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Today!

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You can still call 904-JOI-2000 for JOI Physician Appointments.   New: You can now make follow-up and cancel physician appointments through the JOI Patient Portal. 

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By: Ehren Allen, DPT, Certified Manual Therapist

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