Tendonitis of the Elbow

One type of tendonitis of the arm is bicep tendonitis. The bicep muscle, in the front of the upper arm, helps stabilize the upper arm bone (humerus) in the shoulder socket. It also helps accelerate and decelerate the arm during overhead movement in activities like tennis or pitching. Strong, cord-like structures called tendons connect one end of the biceps muscle to the shoulder in two places. At the other end of the muscle, tendons connect the biceps muscle to the smaller bone (radius) in the lower arm. If the tendons become inflamed or irritated, the condition is called tendonitis.

Non-surgical Treatment of Tendonitis of the Elbow

The first step is to rest the arm and shoulder, and avoid overuse and activities that irritate the arm. Icing and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can help reduce tenderness and swelling (inflammation). Your doctor can also recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to build muscle endurance and restore range of motion. Then you can slowly return to activities that involve raising your arm over your head.

Surgical Treatment of Tendonitis of the Elbow

If the pain is caused by the shoulder joint not being stable or by pressure on the tendon from the shoulder bones, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery. Using fiber optic technology and miniature instruments inserted through a small incision, the surgeon can examine the shoulder joint and anchor the tendon properly.

After surgery, your doctor may prescribe a physical therapy program that includes stretching and strengthening. Early movement is important, but you should wait for your doctor's approval before doing any heavy lifting or returning to sports.