Tendinitis results from overusing a tendon or injury to a tendon, which is commonly seen in athletes. Learn about its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Tendon is a thick fibrous structure in the body, which connects muscle to bone. Inflammation of the tendon is known as tendinitis or tendonitis. The exact cause is still debatable, but the most common theory excepted is it occurs due to overuse, which causes microtrauma to the tendon. It commonly affects the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, thigh, ankle, etc. Depending on the location, the common tendinitis problems are:
Tendinitis is common in athletes though it can occur at any age. Older people are more susceptible as tendons become weaker and less elastic with age.
When the sheath around the tendon is inflamed, it is called tenosynovitis. Tendinosis is a similar condition, but it is a chronic degenerative condition, which causes long-term pain.
Depending on the parts of the body affected, the different types of tendinitis are:
Achilles tendinitis - The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel. Inflammation of this tendon is commonly seen in athletes and rheumatoid arthritis patients. It can also be caused by wearing ill-fitted shoes.
Supraspinatus tendinitis - Inflammation of the tendon around the top of the shoulder joint. It results in shoulder pain while lifting the arm upwards.
Tennis elbow - Otherwise called lateral epicondylitis, is the inflammation of the extensor muscles of the elbow. It causes pain on the outer side of the elbow and the wrist.
Golfer’s elbow - Otherwise called medial epicondylitis, is the inflammation of the flexor muscles of the elbow. It causes pain on the inner side of the elbow and wrist. Pain is severe when the person tries to lift something heavy.
De Quervain's tenosynovitis - Here, the patient finds it difficult to move the thumb as the sheath covering the tendons responsible for its movement become inflamed and painful.
Trigger finger - Here, the finger movements, most commonly ring finger, are not smooth. There is an obstruction while straightening of the finger at a point and then suddenly it straightens upon applying some force. Hence it is known as trigger finger. A clicking sound can be heard while straightening out the fingers. It is due to inflammation and swelling of tendon responsible for straightening of the finger and due to swelling there are interrupted movements when it passes below the pulley covering the tendon.
The symptoms include:
Dull ache or pain on moving the joint or limb.
Formation of a lump along the tendon.
The feeling of the tendon crackling on movement.
The common causes of tendinitis are:
Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
Tennis, golf, bowling, or basketball players are at a higher risk of developing tendinitis.
The factors that increase the risk of tendonitis are:
Old age, as the tendons become less flexible.
Work that involves repetitive motions, sitting in awkward positions, and forceful exertion.
Athletes who play baseball, golf, bowling, tennis, or running.
If left untreated, tendinitis can lead to:
Tendon rupture - It is a serious condition, which might need surgery. Rupture occurs because the tendon becomes weak in the inflamed part.
Tendinosis - It causes degenerative changes in the tendon, which results in pain lasting for several weeks to months.
Your doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical examination. He or she will check your range of motion and will ask you about any recent injury, your work type, previously diagnosed medical condition, and the medicines you are taking.
Diagnosis of tendinitis is usually clinical, but to confirm the diagnosis, your doctor might ask you to get X-rays, MRI scans, or ultrasounds.
The treatment helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Some of the treatment options include:
Most of the time, RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elevation, is all the treatment that is needed to treat tendinitis. The home remedies include:
Rest - Do not work and move with pain as it will worsen the pain and swelling. For the tissues to heal, it is important for you to rest. Bed rest is not necessary, just avoiding the activities that strain the injured joint or limb is good enough. You can still go for a swim or do water aerobics.
Ice - Apply ice to the injured area, several times for 20 minutes, to decrease pain and swelling. Wrap ice cubes in a towel or freeze a cup full of water to apply cold directly to the skin.
Compression - Compressing the area with the help of wraps and elastic bandages help to alleviate the swelling.
Elevation - The affected part should be raised above the level of the heart to reduce swelling.
You need rest to heal your tissues, but avoid prolonged inactivity, as it can result in joint stiffness. After some days, move your joint gently to maintain flexibility.
Manipulating, massaging, and exercise designed to stretch and strengthen the affected tendon and muscle might help reduce chronic pain. For example, eccentric strengthening.
Also, ultrasonic or LASER therapy is also one of the options in physiotherapy.
Always consult a doctor before taking any medication. Some of the medicines used are:
Painkillers - Aspirin, Naproxen sodium, or Ibuprofen tablets or topical creams.
Corticosteroids - To reduce inflammation, corticosteroids can be used. It is not recommended to use steroids for tendinitis that lasts for more than three months, as it can steroids can weaken the tendon and can rupture it. Steroids can also be injected locally at the inflamed part, which is safe and more effective than any other oral or intravenous medications.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) - Your platelets are injected into the area of tendon irritation. This treatment method is still under research.
The surgical options include:
Dry needling - Here, small holes are made in the tendon with a fine needle to stimulate factors that help in the healing of the tendon.
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) - A small incision is made through which a special device that removes tendon scar tissues are inserted.
Surgical repair - In cases where the tendon has torn from the bone, surgical repair might be needed.
Follow these tips to reduce the chance of developing tendinitis:
Avoid performing activities that stretch your tendons excessively. If you have pain while doing an exercise, then rest and start over.
Avoid doing one type of exercise, instead, mix it up.
Take time to stretch and warm-up.
Maintain proper posture.
Adjust your chair, keyboard, and desktop to make it as comfortable as possible. This will avoid excessive strain on your shoulder and joints.
Strengthening exercises can help strengthen your tendons and muscles.
If your pain is getting worse even after trying home remedies, consult a doctor online now.
The best treatment option for tendonitis is to follow the RICE formula. R stands for rest, I indicates an application of ice, C stands for compression, and E emphasizes the importance of elevation of the tendon region that has been injured. Anti-inflammatory drugs are known to be beneficial. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are most commonly used.
Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons. It is known to subside soon in most of the cases. Immobilization is an essential part of the treatment procedure. The pain will gradually reduce after the healing of the swelling in the tendon. In severe cases, the patient must visit a rheumatologist or orthopedic surgeon.
The pain will be severe only if there is excessive swelling. Otherwise, it is usually a dull ache. It is not known to be continuous and is generally relieved at rest. There will be a pain when trying to move the injured limb. If you are experiencing severe pain, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Most patients heal within a month, but in chronic cases, the tendonitis takes more than six weeks to heal. In chronic cases, there will be an inability to move the joints. The sheath surrounding the tendons will be narrowed in chronic conditions of tendonitis.
In the initial stages of tendonitis, cold treatment is the best option. Applying ice to the injured area will help in the reduction of swelling. This happens due to the constriction of the vessels. Ice is also known to reduce the level of pain. After one week, the patient can go for heat treatment.
For long-lasting pain, anti-inflammatory agents are the right choice. You should get recommendations from your doctor and also ask for an appropriate dosage. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are given for a short period to relieve pain.
Follow Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation- RICE concept. Cold packs should be applied in the affected area for nearly 15 minutes. It is necessary to apply ice in circular motions. It can be done every two hours. This can be repeated for three days.
The foods that are rich in uric acid are known to aggravate the condition of tendonitis. The foods that increase uric acid levels are meat, processed foods, caffeine, potatoes, tomatoes, citrus fruits, dairy products, eggs, tomatoes, pepper, alcohol, peppers, and salt.
Massage can increase friction. This will stimulate the production of collagen. It can repair the damaged tendon and help in the healing of the affected area quickly. Massage therapy is known to improve the circulatory flow. It can restore the ability of the joints.
Stretching is known to provide only temporary relief to the joints. Sometimes, it is known to have a negative influence on the bones and tendons. But stretching can provide short-term relief to the tendons. It is not recommended for a complete healing procedure.
The doctor may recommend below medications to cure tendonitis, the medicines are:
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
- Pain relievers. Taking Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or Naproxen sodium may relieve discomfort associated with tendonitis.
Walking could be good for tendonitis. Switching from high impact activities like swimming, cycling, intense exercises to easy walk is good. While observing one’s own breathing during the walk can be an excellent mindful exercise. Do not prefer to go for long walks. Walking short-distance would be sufficient.
Yes, it is recommended to consult a doctor if the following signs are noticed.
- The tendonitis pain does not relieve in seven to ten days.
- The tendonitis pain is exceptionally severe, and also if swelling is noticed, there will be a marked loss of motion.
- If there is a ruptured tendon, you need medical care right away.
If the tendonitis is kept untreated, it might develop into chronic tendonitis and result in permanent degradation of your tendons. In some other cases, the untreated tendonitis may lead to tendon rupture, for which surgical treatment is required to fix it.
The topical application creams can treat tendonitis. Anti-inflammatory agents such as Diclofenac sodium gels are highly beneficial. Applying these gels twice a day would provide sufficient relief. It is known to be more effective than the intake of painkiller medications.
In the majority of the cases, it has dull pain only. You will experience pain only when you try to move your limbs. There will be a certain degree of tightness when you walk or move. It hurts very badly when you try to move.
No, stretching does not improve the condition of tendonitis. It is known to provide relief for a short duration. In some cases, doing stretching exercises can end up in negative results. It is better to get advice from your doctor.
You would require additional rest for the healing of tendonitis. It is necessary to make changes in the long-term habits you are having. It is necessary to apply ice packs in the affected region.
Tendonitis is known to affect a few patients suddenly, but it will gradually develop into complicated conditions over time. Some patients experience pain and tenderness while touching. If it tends to increase, then consult a doctor immediately.
Arthritis is the inflammation of joints. It will be accompanied by pain in the joints. Cartilages connect the joints. If there is inflammation in the tendon or cartilages, then it is known to be tendonitis. Arthritis is known to heal after an extended period, whereas tendonitis can heal faster.
An X-ray cannot show tendons, so this diagnostic procedure will not help detect tendonitis. The doctor will recommend another diagnostic procedure called selective tissue tension test. This will be beneficial in detecting tendonitis.
The reason for excessive pain at night is gravity. When the person is lying down, there will be a change in the position of the muscles and tendons. The effects of gravity will decrease the blood flow to tissues like tendons. A reduction in the blood flow might increase the level of pain at night.
Yes, tendonitis will have inflammation. Untreated cases of tendonitis will tend to worsen the condition. The repetitive motion is also known to damage the tendon. In some cases, tendonitis can happen due to trauma.
Last reviewed at:
03 Oct 2019 - 5 min read
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