For those of you who have had, or are dealing with,
elbow/arm tendonitis, whats the recovery time
for a middle age paddler? I missed half a season
with this problem. Although I haven’t been to
a doctor I don’t think its severe enought to be
a torn mussle so I am following the usual self
treatment of anti-inflammatories and exercise…
After three and a half months I expected to be
be back…but it ain’t so.
For those of you who have had, or are dealing with,
I believe rest is one of the main cures for tendonitis. I would see the doctor. They do have meds that help.
I have been haveing problems with my elbows for about 15 years now and I am still learning about what irritates them. The only thing that I have found that give instant releif and fast recovery is useing a forearm wrap. It greatly reduces the amount of stress that is being put on the elbow tendons. They must be used correctly for the best results. There is limited information on the net and if possible see a doctor or physical therapist for the best results. Good luck.
The pain may stay after vulnerability
to further injury has ended. So it is useful to try, cautiously, to use the arm for paddling now and then. Use ibuprofen or naproxen sodium beforehand, and consider gentle stretching and warming before you start.
Our bodies tell us more than we can put easily into words. Last year about this time I tore my “other” medial meniscus, the right knee, and initially that knee told me clearly: you can walk uphill if you want, it may hurt a little, but will do no harm. Walk on the level or (worse yet) downhill, and there will be hell to pay the next day.
The right knee still hurts after hiking a year later, yet something about the quality of the pain says that it’s OK. I can use the leg, in moderation.
I also have a quasi-tennis elbow thing in my right arm, feels like a minor pull or muscle strain, or maybe a tendon. It tells me not to paddle too hard off the right side of the boat, but my prefered, left side is no problem. That nagging little feeling has been warning caution for weeks, but someday soon the pain will still be there, but it will say, that’s OK, go ahead and use the muscle.
Avoiding Elbo Tendonitis
My understanding of the injury whether it be from tennis, raquetball, paddling or whatever other tool or sporting equipment, the injury is caused by gripping and squeezing to tight on the handle, thus the muscle pulling on the tendon at the joint and getting irritated.
Once your feeling better take this into consideration and maybe look into your stroke and are you doing it correctly. Kayaking is typically an open palmed motion with somewhat of a loose grip, the tighter grip causing tendonitis and increasing the possibility of blisters.
NOT a doctor but my mother use to watch Dr Kildare
depends on what caused the injury
while the pain ‘may’ diminish after a period of rest, it will return if you repeat what caused it in the first place. thus, paddle mechanics is very important. i’d suggest therefor, trying to determine WHY you’ve got the injury and then figure out how to change that.
as to how long it may take to resolve … i have a friend who has an elbow tendonitis on-going for 6 months.
i myself have elbow tendonitis on-going for over a year. i refuse to “rest” it however so i’m a poor example of how to treat it. it doesn’t hurt while i paddle … only at other times when you’d not expect it such as picking up a cup of coffee. go figgya.
It took me a year and a half to finally rid myself of this monster. I saw a physical therapist and did my exercised every day, took the anti-enflamitories and iced the offending part of my arm every night and after every paddle. You can use the arm strap when you paddle too. Last resort is getting cortesone injections or having the cortesone infused by electrical current which is what I also did and is less invasive than having needles puncturing your tendon. Best wishes on a speedy recovery.
Hate to be pessimistic,
I have never gotten rid of my tennis elbow in my right arm and golf elbow in my left. And I don’t play either. I’ve had both for at least two years. The Dr. suggests the strap, which is worthless or Alleve, so I prefer to grin and bear it.
See an Orthopedic Surgeon
I’ve been plagued with tendonitis in my shoulder for over 20 years. It flares up every 4-5 years.
I see a good orthopedic surgeon. He gives me a thorough examination; has me move my arms into a number of positions and follows with appropriate x rays to determine where to give the cortisone shot.
I notice significant relief by the next day, and feel great in a short time.
Then, I’m set for 4-5 more years.
I was in absolute agony the first time I visited my orthopedic surgeon, and thought it was overkill to see a specialist. But a friend assured me that this was the way to go. And he has been proven right.
And no, he has never suggested surgery to me.
Anyway, works for me. Good Luck!
for the info, I’ll keep working on it…
It took a long time for mine to go away (almost a year of non use).
Along the way I learned that paddling with a light paddle made it worse, while paddling with a heavy paddle seemed not only not to hurt, it helped it go away. Using a heavy paddle seems to keep some load on the arm. Most of the load comes from pulling through the water. A heavy paddle is like a “pre-load” if you will. People who don’t have such problems think I’m crazy, but it makes a difference to me to this day.
Technique, specifically not gripping the paddle tightly, can also be a problem.
Stay away from the cortisone shots-
short term relief-but, will eventually wreck the cartilage involved over the long term. You are suffering from damage or inflammation of either the inner or out condyle muscles on either side of the elbow. Use the classic ICE technique immediately after you feel the pain. For rehab-REST it- don’t overwork it or strain it. The older you are, the longer it takes to heal. If you continue to aggravate- it will become a traumatic injury.
How about a doc you actually trust
For many years I solved my own problems medically, now I have a doctor who has a respectful collaborative relationship with me.
You are shoting in the dark here. You cannot solve this without knowing what exactly is wrong. There are several possibilities, from torn muscle, to inflamation, to carpal tunnel, to other nerve pressure, bursitius, etc. Many of these do need actual rest, very hard to do even if stop athletically, due to pressures of daily life and athletic compulsivity. However, it is really motivating to solve the puzzle and then take an active role in your own healing. Next step is to learn how this happened to you and to creatively change your ways to prevent in future. I know I have done all the above despite my stubborn self. I am now a happy camper. Good luck!
My doctor prescribed Bextra. Works great. Take that and/or Ibuprofin BEFORE you paddle. Also try this excercise with a freind - amazing results!
Stand facing a friend, with your arm fully extended, place your hurting arm on the opposite shoulder of your friend (crossing between you).
Have your friend place the palm of one hand flat just below your elbow, on the inside of your arm and the palm of his/her other hand just above the elbow on the outside of your arm and push firmly against each other. This allows more blood movement to the elbow. Count to 10 and release. Repeat 3 times. Try clenching your fist afterwards or pick up a milk carton, you'll be amazed.
Arm band – working for me
I second your recommendation of an arm band to help elbow tendonitis (tennis elbow). I’m wearing one now, and it’s broken the cycle of constant pain that’s been building for months.
What I think happens is that the band compresses the muscle against the bone, reducing the bow shape and thereby lengthening the stretch from the tendon at the elbow to the tendon at the other end of the muscle. That relieves the pressure of the tendon across the complex elbow joint, thus breaking the cycle of irritation.
How to fit the band? By trial and error, I’ve arrived at this technique. Place the compression pad (if your band has one; they seem to help) right on top of the biggest muscle bulge on the top/outside of the arm, just down the arm from the elbow. This is the muscle that bulges when you do a wrist curl movement. I know I’ve got it attached right if, when I straighten my arm, there is no (or less) pain in the elbow.
Sounds like same effect as arm band…
… which is to compress the muscle against the bone, reduce the bow shape of the muscle/tendon, thus relieving the pressure on the end of the muscle (that is, the tendons), particularly the elbow end, which is what gets irritated.
Sorry to hear you are
having this problem. You might want to search the archives and read some of the many previous discussions of the subject. My own experience was that moving to a variable-feather crank-shafted paddle, which I could adjust so that there was absolutely no movement of my wrists away from their natural straight angle, took care of the problem. This cure assumes that the problem is with the origin points of forearm muscles which control the wrist and hand. For problems with the elbow joint itself, have a good kayak teacher observe your stroke, noting what part causes pain. Often, a small adjustment in stroke mechanics, e.g. an earlier release, more “chicken wing” at exit, or a different path of the paddle through the water, will solve the problem. Tiny forces, multiplied over 1000s of repetitions, add up.
I can empathize totally, having had it myself when I first began paddling, and now suffering from some nagging abdnominal muscle pains related to taking up longboard skateboarding a little too enthusiastically in recent months.
Best of luck,
PS If you’re anywhere near Boston, I’d be happy to look at your forward stroke.
My advice is see a doctor, now. I have had 2 boughts with tendonitis, one due to improper kayak padlling techique and one due to overuse during a home repair. The technique problem was a shoulder tendon inflammation and a physical therapist had it resolved in about a month, but before I got her help it was lingering for months. The other issue has been going on for 4 months, of which I waited 2 months for it to heal on its own. The last 2 have been wasted by going to 2 different physical therapists, I finally went to an ortho doc and he thinks the tendon is torn and I need surgery. Another 6 - 8 weeks of no paddling, aghh. BTW, I am 45… getting old sucks, but it is beter than the alternative.
Second time around
I am an avid tennis player with supposedly “classic style text book strokes.” I played varsity tennis in both high school and college. However, even with good body mechanics, my elbow still has taken a beating.
I have had tennis elbow now for about 12 or 13 years. The first time it flared up was 12 years ago. I could not play for a full YEAR! Boy was I miserable for that year. After going through therapy and not playing I finally bit the bullet and got a cortisone shot. VOILA, the pain instantly went away. However, 6 months later, it came back with a vengeance just as suddenly.
Finally, after resting it once again for several more months I was able to slowly get back into the game. I now use an air cast every single time I play. I literally could not play for even five minutes without it hurting if I did NOT wear it. Everything was going well for the past 10 years but then this past indoor season, it flared up again and as a result, I have not been able to play since February! This time I went through 10 weeks of rehab … no significant improvement. Finally bit the bullet once again and took the cortisone shot. Aye karumba did that ever HURT this time. Was in severe pain for the next 36 hours. It then subsided. However, I STILL can not play tennis even after the shot. The only GOOD news is that for whatever reason, this sports injury is very sports specific. I can play, paddle and do virtually everything else pain free.
It has been about 3 months since I got the last shot. I am starting to feel twinges of pain once again in normal day to day activities. Grrrr.
I especially notice it when I firmly shake hands with someone.
My sports doc has suggested PRO-LO (sp?)therapy if the cortisone shot doesn’t work. It is a series of “sugar water” injections where they repeatedly probe/stab the area in order to deliberately aggravate the injured area and stimulate our own body’s natural internal healing process. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will NOT pay for this proven therapy and the series of shots are not cheap.
Thank goodness my tennis elbow does not prevent me from being able to paddle. Maybe that is why I have gotten so heavily involved with paddling? Since I can’t play tennis, I have substituted paddling to take its place.
One thing that is really slowing down recovery is
my sleeping position, which is on my sides. Half
the night I’m laying on the shoulder, arm and elbow.
I guess most of us sleep that way, its the only
way I can sleep…I want to thank everbody who has
been responding here, its been very helpful.