Elbow Tendon Pathology Specialist

Alta Orthopaedics -  - Orthopaedic Surgery

Alta Orthopaedics

Orthopaedic Surgery, Pain Management & Sports Medicine Specialists located in Santa Barbara, Solvang, & Oxnard, CA

Injuries like distal biceps ruptures, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow) are all types of elbow tendon pathology. If you have sustained an injury to the tendons in your elbow, the Alta Orthopaedics team can help. With locations in Solvang, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Oxnard, California, their board-certified orthopaedic surgeons specialize in both non-surgical and surgical treatments for elbow tendon pathology. Call Alta Orthopaedics today to schedule a consultation or use the online form to book an appointment.

Elbow Tendon Pathology Q & A

What is elbow tendon pathology?

Elbow tendon pathology is a term that covers conditions in which the tendons connecting muscles to bones around your elbow suffer damage.

Examples include distal biceps ruptures, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow).

What is a distal biceps rupture?

A distal biceps rupture is a condition where the tendon that joins your biceps (a muscle in your upper arm) to the radius bone in your forearm tears. You might hear a "pop" sound in your elbow at the time of the injury.

Other symptoms include an elevation of the biceps muscle toward your shoulder, and significant difficulties flexing and rotating your arm from a palm-down to a palm-up position — a movement known as supination. You might also have bruising in the area and a bulge in your upper arm.

The most common cause of distal biceps ruptures are acute injuries when trying to lift a heavy object, and men aged 40-60 have the highest risk of this injury. Once torn, it is unlikely to reattach without surgery.

What is lateral epicondylitis?

Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is a condition affecting the outer aspect of your elbow.

The extensor muscles in your forearm that help to extend your wrist and fingers attach to the lateral epicondyle of your upper arm bone (humerus). Making repetitive movements (like gripping) causes the extensor tendons that connect the muscle to the bone to pull on the epicondyle.

Continual muscular contractions result in numerous small tears in the tendon. Ineffective healing then leads to chronic degeneration in the tendon at the site of its origin on the upper arm bone.

Up to 50% of tennis players are likely to develop lateral epicondylitis. Risk factors include having a poor technique, incorrect grip, or an unsuitable racket. Laborers who use heavy tools or anyone who regularly performs gripping or lifting tasks are also at risk. Lateral epicondylitis is most common in patients aged 35-50.

What is medial epicondylitis?

Medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow) affects the inner aspect of the joint. It has similar causes to lateral epicondylitis but is much less common and can be easily missed.

With medial epicondylitis, the pain is worse when you grip with an extended wrist and elbow, making it common in golfers, bowlers, baseball players, and weightlifters.

How are elbow tendon pathologies treated?

The Alta Orthopaedics team can treat distal biceps tears surgically or non-surgically, depending on age, activity levels, and how long you've had the injury.

Non-surgical treatment consists of bracing and physical therapy. Surgical treatment should be done as soon as possible  in those that need it and consists of reattaching the biceps tendon to the radius bone in your forearm using a metal button and screw.

Treatment of lateral and medial epicondylitis is typically non-surgical. The Alta Orthopaedics team fits you with a brace, which with rest and anti-inflammatory medications gives the injury time to heal. Physical therapy, cCortisone injections, or biologics such as PRP can also speed up the healing process.

Severe cases of lateral or medial epicondylitis might need surgical intervention. This usually involves a release (cutting the tendon), clean up, and reattachment of the affected tendon.

For expert help with elbow tendon pathology, call Alta Orthopaedics today or book an appointment online.