Elbow Tendinopathy

Elbow tendinopathy, or medial epicondylitis or golfer’s elbow, is a type of tendinopathy that affects the tendons in the elbow joint. It is a condition that results from overuse of the muscles and tendons that attach to the bony bumps on the inside and outside of the elbow. This overuse leads to inflammation and small tears in the tendon fibers, which can cause pain and discomfort. Here is an overview of elbow tendinopathy, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Causes of Elbow Tendinopathy

There are several causes of elbow tendinopathy, including repetitive motions and overuse of the elbow joint. Some of the most common causes of elbow tendinopathy include:

  • Repetitive arm and wrist movements, such as those used in sports like tennis, golf, or baseball.
  • Lifting heavy objects or performing repetitive tasks with the arms and hands.
  • Poor posture or ergonomics, which can put extra strain on the elbow joint.
  • Age-related wear and tear on the tendons and ligaments in the elbow joint.

Signs and Symptoms of Elbow Tendinopathy

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of elbow tendinopathy:

Pain and tenderness around the elbow joint: The most common symptom of elbow tendinopathy is pain and tenderness in the affected area. The pain may be mild to severe and may be felt on the inside or outside of the elbow joint. The pain may also be more pronounced when gripping or lifting objects.

Stiffness and reduced range of motion: Another common symptom of elbow tendinopathy is stiffness in the elbow joint, which can make it difficult to move the arm or bend the elbow. This stiffness may be accompanied by a feeling of tightness or discomfort in the muscles and tendons around the elbow joint.

Weakness and difficulty gripping: Elbow tendinopathy can also cause weakness in the forearm muscles, which can make it difficult to grip or lift objects. This weakness may be more pronounced when performing activities that require a lot of arm or hand strength.

Swelling and redness: In some cases, elbow tendinopathy may also cause swelling and redness around the affected area. This swelling may be accompanied by a feeling of warmth or heat in the joint.

Tingling or numbness: In rare cases, elbow tendinopathy may cause a tingling or numbness sensation in the fingers or hand. This is typically a sign of nerve irritation or compression in the forearm.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent further damage to the tendons and promote healing of the affected area.

Treatments for Elbow Tendinopathy

There are several treatments available for elbow tendinopathy, including:

  • Rest and ice therapy to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physical therapy, which can include exercises to strengthen the muscles around the elbow joint and improve range of motion.
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), a non-invasive treatment that uses shockwaves to promote healing of the tendons and reduce pain.
  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery, which may be necessary in severe cases where other treatments have not been effective.

Physiotherapy for elbow tendinopathy typically involves a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as manual therapy techniques to improve joint mobility and reduce pain. Your physiotherapist will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about elbow tendinopathy please call us at 03 9836 1126.

Reference:

“Elbow Tendinitis (Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow).” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
“Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s and Baseball Elbow).” Cedars-Sinai.
“Elbow Tendinopathy.” Physiopedia.

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