How to Treat Tendinitis in the Arm

Young woman having an arm massage
A woman is working with a therapist. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Your tendons are strong, durable fibers that connect muscle to bone. In your arm, tendons connect muscles that allow you to lift your arm at your shoulder and bend it at your elbow. You experience tendinitis -- an inflammation in the arm -- when you use your arm in the same manner, excessively taxing your tendons. Examples of arm tendinitis include tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, pitcher’s shoulder or swimmer’s shoulder. When you experience painful symptoms and difficulty moving your arm, you can take steps to minimize inflammation and prevent tearing of the tendon.

Step 1

Use a brace, splint or sling to immobilize the arm. Limiting movement allows the arm tendons to rest and can reduce pain.

Step 2

Perform different activities from those that caused your tendinitis. For example, if playing tennis is giving you tennis elbow, switch to swimming to maintain range of motion and exercise the arm, yet work the arm in a different manner.

Step 3

Ice the affected area with an ice pack or create an ice massage cup by filling a plastic foam cup in water and freezing it. Rub the cup over the affected area to reduce swelling and minimize muscle spasms that cause pain. Do not apply ice for more than 20 minutes, however, as it can damage your skin.

Step 4

Take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications not only relieve pain, they also can reduce swelling associated with arm tendinitis. If you take acetaminophen, refrain from taking more than 4,000mg per day.

Step 5

Practice regular stretching exercises. If you experience elbow pain, extend your affected arm in front of you with your fingers pointing downward. Grasp the hand of your affected arm with your other arm and apply pressure to bring the hand closer to your body and to stretch the tendons that connect to the elbow. Hold for 15 seconds, then release. Repeat three times.

Step 6

Use resistance bands to strengthen the muscles around your arms. This helps you to stabilize your bones and enables your body to better withstand pressure. Examples of exercises include placing the band around your hands and stepping on the band with your toes. Pull against the band to lift your hand. Lower to return to your starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Things You'll Need

  • Brace, splint or sling

  • Ice pack

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Resistance band

Tip

See your physician if your symptoms do not subside with over-the-counter treatments. Your physician may recommend a cortisone shot, which can be used to minimize swelling and redness.

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