Tendons are strong threads that connect muscles to bones. Tendinitis is a condition that occurs when tendons become irritated or inflamed. Tendinitis produces severe discomfort and tenderness in the affected joint, making it difficult to move it.
Tendinitis can affect any tendon, but it's most common in the shoulder, knee, elbow, heel, and wrist.
Tendinitis can also be referred to by the following terms:
- swimmer's shoulder
- jumper's knee
- pitcher's shoulder
- golfer's elbow
- tennis elbow
What causes tendinitis?
Repetitive motion is the most common cause of tendinitis. Tendons assist you in repeating a specific activity. If you make the same move repeatedly while playing sports or working, you may get tendinitis if you do the motion wrong; the risk increases.
Tendinitis can also be caused by:
- diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
- certain antibiotics (quinolones such as Levaquin)
Tendinitis is more common in athletes who participate in sports such as tennis, golf, bowling, or basketball. If your job requires physical exertion, overhead lifting, or repetitive motions or tasks, you may be at a higher risk.
Symptoms to watch for
Tendinitis pain is usually a dull ache that radiates from the affected area or joint. When you move the injured area, it gets worse. The area will be tender, and anyone is touching it will cause you more pain.
It's possible that you'll feel a tightness in the area, making it difficult to move. There's a chance you'll have some swelling as well.
If you develop tendonitis symptoms, start by resting the affected area and applying ice. Make an appointment to see your doctor if your condition does not improve after a few days of rest.
How is tendinitis diagnosed?
At your appointment, your doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam of the area where the pain is concentrated. They'll also examine your tenderness and range of motion.
Be prepared to tell your doctor about the following:
- recent or past injuries to the painful area
- sports and physical activities you've participated in in the past and present
- any medical conditions that have been previously diagnosed
- all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as herbal supplements
If your doctor is unable to make a diagnosis based solely on a physical examination, additional tests may be ordered. These could include the following:
- MRI scans
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What are the treatment options?
Tendonitis treatment options help to relieve pain and inflammation in the tendon. The following are some simple home remedies:
- as directed by your doctor, resting or elevating the tendon
- applying heat or ice
- taking pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Naprosyn) (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- until the swelling goes away, wrap the area in a compression bandage
- doing stretches and exercises to improve mobility and strength in the area
If your condition is more serious, your doctor might suggest:
- Splints, braces, or a cane are examples of support devices.
- surgery to remove inflammatory tissue
- physical therapy
- corticosteroid injections
A single corticosteroid injection can help to relieve pain and inflammation, but repeated injections can weaken the tendon and increase the risk of injury.
Tendinitis usually heals quickly if treated early. It can recur and become a chronic or long-term problem for some people. If your tendinitis was caused by repetitive movements or overuse, you should change your habits to reduce your chances of getting it again after it heals.
If the inflammation is not treated, it can lead to further injuries, such as a tendon rupture. A tendon rupture and cases that do not respond well to other treatments often necessitate surgery.
Keep tendon inflammation at bay
Reduce your risk of tendinitis by following these simple steps:
- Maintain your physical fitness and muscle tone.
- Before you start exercising, make sure you warm-up.
- Overuse and repetitive motions should be avoided.
- If you're an athlete, you should cross-train.
- When working at a desk or performing other tasks, maintain proper posture.
- Do not stay in the same position for an extended period of time. Alter your position on a regular basis.
- At work and during athletic activities, wear appropriate equipment.
Stop your activity if you start to feel the pain of tendinitis. Take a 20-minute break to rest and apply ice.