If you're having problems with elbow pain, you could have a condition known as tennis elbow, even if you don't play tennis. You may need to see a rheumatologist for help so the pain doesn't interfere with your ability to work or maintain an active life. A rheumatologist is a doctor that treats conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including tendons in the elbow. Here are symptoms you may have with this condition and treatments that might help.

Symptoms Associated With Tennis Elbow

You can have this condition in one elbow or both at the same time. You'll experience pain on the outside of your elbow when you make certain movements. Your elbow might even be swollen and tender to the touch. Your elbow might feel stiff when you open up your arm, and the condition might even affect your strength and leave you with a weak grip.

These symptoms are caused by irritation, inflammation, and damage to the tendons around your elbow. This might be due to an injury or repetitive motion. Playing certain sports or having an occupation that puts repetitive strain on your elbow could put you at a higher risk of developing tennis elbow.

Treatments Your Rheumatologist Might Recommend

Tennis elbow might heal on its own in several months if you stop the activity that caused it. However, if the condition is caused by your occupation, you may not be able to rest that long. Your rheumatologist can choose from different treatments for a solution to your pain, stiffness, and weakness.

Anti-inflammatory medications and injections might help since they decrease inflammation in your tendons and that can decrease pain and assist with healing. You might even try using ice a few times a day to control pain and inflammation. The rheumatologist might send you to physical therapy to strengthen your arm muscles and improve flexibility.

The therapist might fit you for an elbow brace or show you how to tape your elbow to relieve pressure on the tendon and reduce pain. If these treatments don't help, your doctor might recommend surgery.

Surgery might be a minimally invasive procedure that removes damaged tendon tissue. If the tendon had a bad tear, it might need open repair surgery to stabilize and anchor the tendon so it can heal. Tennis elbow surgery is customized to the nature of your injury so you get the best results. You might need to wear an elbow brace even after you've recovered to keep from injuring your elbow again.

When you have elbow pain that doesn't clear up quickly, it's a good idea to be checked by a doctor so your elbow can be treated properly if needed. A tendon injury can take a long time to heal, so taking steps to prevent tennis elbow is important when you play sports or use repetitive motions at work. Most of all, don't ignore the pain since that could make your condition worse. 

Contact a local rheumatologist office, such as Sarasota Arthritis Center, to learn more.