Elbow tendonitis symptoms

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

The forearm muscles that are involved in gripping, squeezing, and lifting are anchored to both the wrist as well as to the elbow.

Excessive stress or force on these muscles can cause injury to the tendon insertions at the elbow.

Common causes of elbow tendonitis include excessive gripping or squeezing. Examples include too much tennis, golf, weightlifting, gardening, hammering, etc. Other situations that can bring this on are chronic overuse of the wrist extensor muscles such as excessive keyboarding.

Symptoms occur with pain on the outside (lateral) or inside (medial) aspect of the elbow. The pain is worsened with gripping or squeezing. There are three major types of tendonitis in the elbow:

•Lateral epicondylitis (Tennis elbow.) Symptoms include swelling, tenderness and pain during movement at the lateral epicondyle the elbow. Tennis elbow is due to microtears of the tendons of the extensor muscles of the forearm. Treatment involves rest, ice, splinting, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, and glucocorticoid injection. Ultrasound-guided needle tenotomy with platelet-rich plasma is the preferred treatment of choice, particularly with microtears of the tendon.

•Golfer’s elbow. This condition has similar symptoms to tennis elbow, with the difference that the symptoms occur at the medial epicondyle. The treatment is the same as for lateral epicondylitis.

On examination, a patient will be tender at either the medial or lateral epicondyle of the elbow.

The diagnosis is made by history and physical examination. MRI or diagnostic ultrasound can confirm diagnosis.

The last type of tendonitis is triceps tendonitis. This affects the triceps tendon insertion at the olecronon of the elbow. Resisted extension of the elbow will reproduce the pain. MRI or diagnostic ultrasound confirms the diagnosis. The treatment is similar to that for the epicondylitis problems mentioned earlier.

Surgical treatment is rarely required.

For more up-to-date information on the latest treatments for elbow tendonitis go to: Tendonitis and PRP

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