Forearm Tendonitis

What you should know about Forearm Tendonitis

A common arm injury is a condition called tennis elbow, more formally known as forearm tendonitis.  While playing tennis is certainly one cause for the injury, there are numerous other activities requiring repeated arm movements that can be just as damaging to the forearm.

Tendonitis - what it is

The human body is a wonderful embodiment of synergy.  While each element provides a necessary function, it is incapable of performing its task without the help of other elements.  For example, to facilitate movement and structure, a combination of the skeletal system, muscles, tendons and more work in synchronism to allow seemingly simple functions such as movement of limbs, walking, turning, bending and standing.   Tendons, which are thick, fibrous cords, provide a connection between muscles and bones.  Muscles contract or release in order to pull or push bone, and the tendon provides the conduit that keeps them connected during the motion.

Although tendons are tough and sturdy, they are still subject to overuse or misuse.  This usually happens to tendons that are in close proximity to a joint, where the greatest range of motion is possible.  When it occurs, the tendon can become irritated or inflamed.  Called tendonitis, this inflammation happens most frequently to the elbow, wrist, shoulder and heel.  In the most severe of cases, tendons can rupture.


The name “tennis elbow” was coined due to the frequent occurrence of forearm tendonitis among tennis players, but there are actually a number of causes for the condition.  Any type of activity that requires repetitive motion of the hands and arms, jobs that place the hands and wrists in awkward positions and undue exertion of the arms and hands are all examples of situations that overuse the tendons and subject them to injury.  Typists, sports participants, assembly line workers and drivers are some examples of those who are prone to developing this condition.  In addition, age is a factor for the injury; as tendons become less flexible through normal aging, they become more susceptible.


There are specific symptoms that indicate when a tendon has become inflamed.  A dull, chronic ache of the area, tenderness and some swelling will typically be the indication that the condition called forearm tendonitis is present.  In its early stages, the condition can be successfully relieved if properly treated; without this treatment, the tendon is prone to rupture.


When the painful symptoms of tendonitis arise, many people are able to self treat at home.  Over the counter pain medications and icing the affected area will help to relieve the pain felt by reducing the swelling.  Refraining from the activity that caused the inflammation is an important key to healing; any continuation of the activity will result in repeating the irritation and possibly exacerbating the condition.

Additional treatment may be required when the traditional at home treatments fail to relieve the issue.  Cortisone injections can greatly reduce both inflammation and the resulting pain, but can only be administered sparingly.  Therapy that targets the affected muscle and tendon to stretch the unit can help to not only relieve current pain but also to help avoid the condition from recurring later.  Tendons that rupture can cause serious issues, and may require surgical repair.


Preventative measures

Those who are at the greatest risk for this condition should take steps to prevent the injury.  An activity requiring repetitive motion should be discontinued at the first sign of pain or discomfort and the affected area stretched and rested until the pain subsides.  “Cross training” the arm or hand by performing other tasks intermittently can give the tendon the rest it needs before continuing.  Exercise caution by stretching the muscle and tendon before performing the activity causing the problem.  Work to strengthen the muscles to give them the tools they need to perform the activity.

Forearm tendonitis, also known as tennis elbow, is a common affliction that affects many individuals who play sports, play video games or works long hours on a computer keyboard.  It is a painful condition, but its occurrence can be diminished or even prevented when proper steps are taken.