In the beginning, this pain will often go away within 24 hours after an activity. However if not dealt with immediately, your pain and stiffness will get worse over weeks or months, to the point where you may feel soreness even when your arm is still. You can also experience a severe burning pain and atrophied forearm muscles (loss of muscle mass), which results in a weakened grip. If left untreated, you may experience extreme loss of motion and function of your elbow and forearm.
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
The onset of tennis elbow pain is normally gradual with tenderness or a dull ache felt in the tendons of your forearm muscles on or below the bony bumps on your elbow.
If you have tennis elbow, you will feel pain or discomfort when performing repetitive movements such as grasping, carrying objects (a tray, a baby or books), or twisting with your hands or wrists.
Pain will start on and around the bump on the outside of your elbow (lateral epicondyle). As time goes on this pain will start to radiate from the outside of your elbow down to your forearm and wrists.
Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
If you have golfer’s elbow, you will feel discomfort and pain when performing repetitive movements such as holding, squeezing, twisting with your hands or wrists, or curving your fingers as they hit a computer or piano.
Pain can also be experienced when you try to pick something up with your palm down, when you flex your wrist and fingers forwards while extending your arm, or when you rest your forearms on a surface (while typing or grasping for something).
Pain will start on and around the bump on the inside of your elbow (medial epicondyle), and will eventually radiate from the inside of your elbow down to your forearm and wrists.
Should You Seek Medical Attention?
This is up to your discretion; however any continued discomfort in your elbow should be investigated, as it can lead to long term damage. If you experience any of the symptoms below it is recommended that you seek professional medical attention:
- You are unable to carry objects, participate in activities or work due to the pain
- You have limited range of motion and are unable to bend, straighten or move your arm at all
- You are experiencing redness, heat or swelling in your elbow (swelling rarely occurs with tennis elbow, however it may indicate another condition)
- Your elbow looks deformed or you have significant bruising around that area
- You’ve experienced a traumatic accident and may have broken a bone
- You experience elbow pain that occurs at night while resting or persists beyond a few days
- Any other unusual symptoms
How to Treat Your Elbow Tendon Injury
It is important to treat tendon injuries as soon as possible, as any activity or strain you put on your tendon can re-injure it further.
The trick with any tendon injury is getting it toheal with minimal scar tissue formation. Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. This will cause the tendon to hurt, during exercise and everyday activities. However, if you heal your injury efficiently and quickly, your chance of re-injury later on is much lower than average.
Allowing your elbow to rest is always recommended following injury. Avoid all activities that may have caused the injury or irritation.
Although steroid injections may provide temporary relief from the pain of tendinitis or tendinosis, they should generally be avoided as they weaken the tendon. If you do opt for an injection, doctors usually recommend that you do not participate in strenuous activities for several weeks to reduce the risk of a rupture.