Conservative treatments for elbow tendonitis include ice application, elbow straps, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and range-of-motion exercises, explains WebMD. Doctors also sometimes prescribe physical therapy and pain reliever injections. About half of people with elbow tendonitis eventually require surgery to treat the tendon damage.
Applying ice to an elbow affected by tendonitis often helps lesson swelling and pain, according to WebMD. Patients should apply the ice for about 20 to 30 minutes and repeat the application every three to four hours until the pain subsides. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen, are also helpful for reducing pain and swelling. Patients should only take these medicines on an occasional basis unless otherwise recommended by a doctor because they can cause the elbow to heal at a slower pace. Wearing an elbow strap protects the tendon from further injury while it heals, and range-of-motion exercises promote flexibility and help combat stiffness.
If elbow tendonitis doesn't respond to more conservative treatments after two to four months, surgery may be necessary, notes WebMD. The typical surgical procedure involves removing the damaged tissue and repairing the portion of the tendon that remains. The procedure is successful for between 85 and 90 percent of patients.