Tendonitis symptoms can vary wildly, from a mild ache to stabbing pain. Once tendonitis develops, it tends to get increasingly worse and more difficult to treat, which is why early detection is important.
One of the earliest symptoms is pain or discomfort when pressure is put on the tendon. In other words, if you feel a twinge in your elbow when you lift weights, are throwing a softball or baseball, swinging a tennis racket, or wielding a hammer or saw at work, you may have the beginnings of tendonitis.
Another warning sign is if you find it hard to fully extend your arm or it is painful to do so. You may also notice inflammation, where the skin is actually hot to the touch. There may also be a burning sensation inside the joint.
In the beginning, the tendon will only hurt after exertion but as the condition worsens, the discomfort can become chronic so that the elbow is continually stiff and painful. If you notice the tendons becoming visibly swollen, the condition is getting serious.
Treating tendonitis is a combination of resting the joint and rehabilitating. The first thing to do is stop the activity causing the pain. If your condition is caused by recreational pursuits, it will be easier to curtail that than if it is job related. But since tendonitis can affect your performance, better to go on medical leave for a few weeks now than months and months later.
It’s also a good idea to brace the elbow to protect it and minimize movement. You can also apply anti-inflammatory medication, which helps relieve pain and also can increase blood flow to the area. Some patients report that massage helps the healing process as well.
In many cases, three weeks rest will enable the tendon to heal itself. But if it is still tender, give it another three weeks before easing back into activity. The biggest mistake people make is being impatient and going back to the activity that caused the tendonitis before the elbow has had a chance to fully repair itself. That causes the tendonitis to return so the healing process goes back to square one.