Elbow Tendonitis

Background

Elbow tendonitis can occur at either the medial (inside) or lateral (outside) aspect of the elbow. Tendonitis most commonly represents an overuse-type injury that may be associated with repetitive type activities, and may be related to sports such as golf or tennis (“Tennis elbow”).

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon as it attaches to the bone. This inflammation is often associated with small microtears in the tendon that may progress to degeneration, if symptoms persist.

Symptoms / diagnosis

  • Sharp pain on the side of the elbow
  • Often worse with activity and lifting
  • May cause weakness associated with the pain

The diagnosis is based on history and physical exam. X-rays are sometimes necessary, but are often normal. MRI can help confirm the diagnosis, but is not always necessary.

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Treatment options

Most people will respond favorably to non-operative care with activity modification, rest, and oral anti-inflammatory medications. Braces and ice may also help relieve the symptoms. If the pain is severe, then a cortisone injection can be provided in the office.

The majority of elbow tendonitis will improve resolve on its own, but it may take over a year to fully resolve. If the pain persists, then you may be a candidate for a surgical procedure to remove the degenerative portion of the tendon

Results and Risks of Treatment

The goal of surgery is to relieve the pain associated with the tendonitis and preserve strength. The majority of patients who undergo surgery will have a good outcome. In addition to the standard surgical risks, the risks specific to this procedure is recurrence of the pain.

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Further Reading

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