How to Improve Tendinitis in The Elbow

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There are two main types of elbow tendinitis: lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow). Tennis elbow occurs on the radial or thumb side of the elbow as muscles in the forearm and arm rub against the lateral epicondyle bone (prominent bone on that side). Golfer's elbow occurs on the ulna or little finger side as forearm and muscles rub against a prominent bone on the inside of the elbow (medial epicondyle). Improving tendinitis symptoms usually entails the combined use of rest, an elbow brace, ice, heat, medication, massage and stretching exercises.

How to Improve Tendinitis in The Elbow
(Michael Gann/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Elbow brace
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ice
  • Ice pack
  • Heating pad
Step 1

Rest your arm for several days by not engaging in any physical activity. During this time, wear an elbow brace.

Michael Gann/Demand Media
Step 2

Take two ibuprofen pills every four to six hours, until your symptoms are gone.

Michael Gann/Demand Media
Step 3

Fill an ice pack or towel with ice. Tie or strap the ice pack or towel against your elbow. Keep the ice on your elbow for 15-20 minutes. Repeat this procedure every three to four hours while you are awake.

Michael Gann/Demand Media
Step 4

After your initial inflammation has subsided, use a heating pad several times per day.

Michael Gann/Demand Media
Step 5

Straighten your arm, bend your hand down with your other hand, and hold that position for 15 seconds. Repeat two or three times. Do this stretching exercise up to five times per day. Press two fingers against the source of your tendinitis. Rub that area for five minutes.

Michael Gann/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • You should use a brace during your rest periods to minimize movement in your arm. Take the brace off when you ice your arm. Use ice during the first 48 hours after the onset of tendinitis symptoms, which can include burning, inflammation and pain. Ice causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), which controls inflammation, swelling and pain by limiting the flow of blood to the elbow. When icing, and throughout the day, elevate your elbow above your heart. This also can reduce inflammation. Once the initial inflammation has subsided, heat can be used to promote blood flow to the elbow tendons. Blood contains oxygen and nutrients such as vitamin C which are necessary for healing.
  • There are also a number of stretching and strength-building exercises you can do to promote blood flow to the elbow and increase flexibility and stability. Stretching with a straight arm will help warm your muscles up. Bending your wrist up and down over your knee while holding a soup can will build strength back in your forearm, which supports your elbow. Perform the exercise with your palms facing up and down.
  • Never apply ice directly against your elbow; this can cause frostbite. Also, do not start any exercise until the initial inflammation has subsided. Exercise will be counterproductive during the first few days.

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