Tendonitis (tendinitis)

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Tendonitis is a common ailment that can occur anywhere in the body where bone attaches to muscle.

What is tendonitis?

Tendons are thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Tendons are located all over the human body.  When tendons become irritated or inflamed due to overuse or stress, this is called tendonitis.


Types of Tendonitis:

  • Tennis Elbow: swelling of the tendon in the outer forearm
  • Golfer’s Elbow: swelling of the tissue on the inner elbow
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis: swelling of the tendons in the wrist near the thumb
  • Achilles tendonitis: swelling or injury to the tendon connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone
  • Swimmer’s shoulder: when a tendon rubs on the shoulder blade causing pain or swelling
  • Patellar tendonitis: swelling of the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shin bone
  • Tendonitis of the wrist: swelling of tendons surrounding wrist bones

Causes of tendonitis

Many activities can cause tendonitis including sports like tennis, golf, or skiing; daily chores like gardening, raking, cleaning, shoveling, or painting; and other repetitive activities such as carpentry, throwing and pitching, or exercise. Additionally, incorrect posture, not stretching before exercise, and conditions that place stress on joints such as arthritis or gout can cause tendonitis.

Symptoms of tendonitis


Pain at the site of the tendon and even loss of motion are symptoms of tendonitis and can occur anywhere in the body. The most common areas of tendonitis include:

  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Base of the thumb
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Ankle (especially the Achilles tendon attaching the calf muscle to the heel)

Avoiding Tendonitis

Tendonitis can be avoided by taking the following precautions:

  • Easing into activity and avoiding short bursts of intense activity
  • Using limited force and repetition
  • Stretching before and after exercise regularly
  • Varying activity
  • Stopping if unusual pain occurs


Treatment of tendonitis

Tendonitis symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several months. Initially, tendonitis can be treated with rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, and alternating ice packs with the heat on the affected area.

If the pain and swelling continue, a doctor can prescribe corticosteroid injections to decrease pain and inflammation or physical therapy. Severe tendonitis can be treated through range-of-motion exercises, splinting, and stretching to provide relief and hasten to heal.

In extreme cases of tendonitis in which calcium deposits have appeared around the tendon, surgery or shock wave therapy may be required. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a noninvasive procedure in which shock waves are passed through the skin in order to break up calcium deposits. These calcium deposits may also be removed surgically.

Tendonitis is common and treatable. It can occur in anyone, but most often occurs in adults aged 40 and older. If you are experiencing symptoms of tendonitis that last longer than a few days or reoccurring tendonitis, call us for a consultation.


Orthopedic Surgeons

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