Tendonitis

Tendonitis at a glance

  • Tendonitis (also known as tendinitis) is inflammation of the tendon (the fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone).
  • Tendonitis frequently occurs in the heels, knees, shoulders, wrists, and elbows.
  • Tendonitis is caused by the stress put on the tendons from repetitive motions.
  • Symptoms of tendonitis typically include pain, stiffness, tenderness, and mild swelling around the tendon and surrounding area.
  • Treatment for tendonitis usually includes the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injured area,) along with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin.

Causes of tendonitis

Tendonitis most often occurs when repetitive motions put excessive stress on the tendons, causing them to become inflamed. Whether a person is participating in sports like skiing or tennis, or hobbies like gardening or painting, repetitive movements can cause tendonitis to develop over time. Office work activities are another frequent cause of tendonitis.

The likelihood of developing tendonitis increases with age because the tendons lose their elasticity over time. People who increase the intensity of their exercise without proper stretching or conditioning are also more likely to develop tendonitis.

Tendonitis may also be caused by a sudden injury, or by stresses from other conditions like arthritis, gout, or thyroid disorders.

Symptoms of tendonitis

Typical symptoms of tendonitis include:

  • Pain or tenderness near the joint, sometimes described as a dull ache
  • Stiffness
  • Mild swelling

The pain associated with tendonitis may develop over time, or be sudden and severe.

In most cases, the symptoms of tendonitis will go away in seven to ten days with rest and home care. However, if left untreated, the symptoms of tendonitis may worsen and become chronic.

Treatment of tendonitis

Tendonitis often responds well to home treatment. The RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected joint – will help relieve the pain and swelling, as will over-the-counter pain medication.

A physician may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation, although this treatment must be used infrequently to avoid weakening the tendon and making it more prone to rupture.

Physical therapy exercises can help to stretch and strengthen the affected tendon and muscle. Learning the correct technique for sports activities or adjusting the arrangement of the workspace may help minimize the amount of stress placed on the tendons.

In severe cases of tendonitis that do not respond to other treatments, surgery may be necessary.

If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms associated with tendonitis, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of the providers at Muir Orthopaedic Specialists to learn about your treatment options.