What causes tendonitis? What treatments are available?

We know: 1-Minute Lesson on Tendonitis

What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis is the inflammation, irritation, and swelling of a tendon, which is the fiber that joins the muscle to the bone. It can occur as a result of injury, overuse, or with aging as the tendon loses elasticity. It can also be seen in systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.

Any action that places prolonged repetitive strain on the forearm muscles can cause tendonitis.

What are the symptoms of tendonitis?

The most common symptom of tendonitis is pain, tenderness, and the increase of pain with movement. Often, the pain occurs at night.

It can occur in any tendon, but some commonly affected sites are the shoulder, the wrist, the heel (Achilles tendonitis), and the elbow.

How does the doctor test for tendonitis?

A doctor will look for tenderness along the affected tendon and pain when the muscle to which the tendon is attached is used against resistance. There are specific tests for specific tendons. The tendon can be inflamed and the overlying skin may be warm and red.

What are the treatments for tendonitis?

The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Treatments include:

  • Rest or immobilization of the affected tendons is helpful for recovery. This may be achieved using a splint or a removable brace.
  • The application of heat or cold to the affected area can help.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibruprofen, can also reduce both pain and inflammation.
  • Steroid injections into the tendon sheath can also be very useful in controlling pain and allowing physical therapy to start.

What about surgery?

In rare cases, surgery is needed to physically remove the inflammatory tissue from around the tendon.

After recovery, strengthening exercises for the muscles surrounding the affected tendon may prevent recurrence of the injury.

What can I do to prevent tendonitis?

  1. Avoid repetitive motion and overuse of an extremity
  2. Warm up by exercising at a relaxed pace before engaging in vigorous activity
  3. Keep all your muscles strong and flexible

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