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Tendinitis or tendonitis refers to a condition where the tendons (tissues connecting muscles to bones) become inflamed due to some reasons. It can occur almost anywhere in the body, but most commonly affects areas surrounding joints of movement, such as knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists and heels.

Depending upon the region involved and the character of the injury, there may be several varieties of tendinitis. Some of the common ones include:

  • Tennis Elbow – involves the outer side of the elbow
  • Golfer’s Elbow – involves the inner aspect of the elbow
  • De Quervain’s tendosynovitis – affects tendons on the thumb side of the wrist
  • Achilles tendonitis – injury of the Achilles tendon connecting calf muscle to heel bone
  • Patellar tendinitis – involves the tissue connecting knee cap to shin bone

What causes tennis elbow?

Medically termed as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a common condition occurring mainly due to overuse of arm, forearm and hand muscles. Abrupt injuries affecting muscles and tendons of the area around the outside of the elbow, as seen in cricketers and tennis players, result in pain and gradual development of this condition.

It commonly affects individuals in the 30-50 age groups and is more common in males than in females. Typically, tennis elbow involves the dominant arm in individuals. Carpenters, mechanics, office-cleaners and gardeners are especially susceptible to injuries due to repetitive arm movements while tightly gripping something.

Symptoms of tennis elbow

There is gradual development of pain on the outside of the elbow without any definite injury. It begins as a mild pain and persists for weeks or months, worsening slowly every day. Both arms can be affected although the dominant arm is affected more in most cases.

Patients complain of experiencing sharp pain while doing forearm activities like turning a wrench or swinging a racquet. The grip slowly becomes weak if the condition is ignored for long, and over the course of months, you may lose some strength on the affected limb.

Non-Surgical Treatment options

In approximately 80-95% of patients, there is no need for surgery. A combination of home remedies, steroid injections and physical therapy are sufficient to treat the pain and swelling effectively. The commonly preferred treatment procedures include:

  • Rest
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Exercises and muscle-stimulating techniques to improve strength of forearm and arm muscles
  • Use of braces
  • Corticosteroid injection for reducing inflammation
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy to promote healing

What to do if pain persists?

If non-surgical treatments fail to improve symptoms after 6-12 months of therapy, surgery is recommended. Each patient has different requirements; so you must talk to your doctor regarding the best way to approach the treatment in your case. Both open and arthroscopic surgeries are helpful, followed by a period of rehabilitation to get you back to your normal life.

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