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Living With Chronic Tendonitis

  • Published: 2011-03-18 (Revised/Updated 2017-04-15) : Disabled World.
  • Synopsis: I experienced pain in my arms and elbows for months before I finally went to a doctor at the insistence of my supervisors.

Main Document

Quote: "The worst activity for tendonitis is repetitive motion; my doctor has informed me that it's not possible for me to return to court reporting."

I had never heard of tendonitis until that time; and because I suffered irreparable damage, I've dealt with the condition every day of my life since then.

I experienced pain in my arms and elbows for months back in 2001, before I finally went to a doctor at the insistence of my supervisors, who, surprisingly, advised me that I needed to file a workers' compensation injury claim. I had hesitated to go to the doctor because I'd just recovered from being wheelchair-bound due to a broken ankle and a torn ligament in the other ankle. After filing the workers' comp claim, I went to see my family's orthopedic doctor; and he informed me that I had chronic tendonitis, which is recurring inflammation of the tendons.

I had never heard of tendonitis until that time; and because I suffered irreparable damage, I've dealt with the condition every day of my life since then.

My initial condition was so severe that I was immediately advised not to work for an entire month because the first treatment for tendonitis is to rest the affected joints. The tendonitis was and is in both of my elbows. The cause of the tendonitis, also called tennis elbow, was excessive repetitive use.

There were two factors that contributed to the injury, I've always figured. First, I wheeled my 20-pounds overweight self around at work in a cheap wheelchair with my wimpy arms for several weeks, while keeping up with my usual duties. From there, I transitioned to work in a different department with a partner at our firm. I was diligently attempting to catch him up on his accounts, and the massive files I was constantly lifting were each almost a foot wide.

Even after I returned to work, the pain in both of my elbows was quite severe. Over time, I had three rounds of cortisone shots in each elbow, to deal with the pain. I also went to physical therapy to learn strengthening exercises. The pain in my elbows, which radiates into my arms, became much more tolerable; but through the years, I've simply become accustomed to living with unceasing pain.

Tennis elbow diagram
About This Image: Tennis elbow diagram
The real blow is that I was on a temporary hiatus from a lucrative career when this injury occurred - I had formerly worked as a court reporter in the court system but family situations inspired me to get a regular 9 to 5 job for a while. The worst activity for tendonitis is repetitive motion; my doctor has informed me that it's not possible for me to return to court reporting. I know he's right, too, because I've made the effort and discovered that nothing inflames my elbows more quickly than writing on the steno machine.

To treat the pain of chronic tendonitis, I take a prescription anti-inflammatory, Mobic, daily. (Yes, I'm aware of risks involved.) I also take a non-narcotic prescription pain pill, Tramadol, as needed. When the pain is intense, I apply a Lidoderm lidocaine patch to the area.

I've taught court reporting since my injury, and I like to spread the word that injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel can be prevented through strengthening exercises. Of course, I just wish I had known about the importance of not overusing joints before suffering my injury.

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