Tendonitis is a common condition that puts wear and tear on the tendons — tissues in the body that connect muscles to bones. Any type of repetitive motion, including playing sports like tennis or bowling, playing an instrument, or working in a factory, can cause tendonitis.
Tennis elbow is one of the most common types of tendonitis. Golfers often experience a similar repetitive injury called “golfer’s elbow.” Achilles tendonitis, another form of tendonitis, is common among runners, and basketball players are familiar with jumper’s knee. Other types of tendonitis include biceps tendonitis and rotator cuff tendonitis.
Risk Factors for Tendonitis
From athletes to office workers, anyone who engages in any type of repetitive movement on a regular basis can get tendonitis. If you have diabetes or arthritis, an overactive or underactive thyroid, or gout, you also have an increased risk of tendonitis.
Symptoms of Tendonitis
The first signs of tendonitis are usually pain and tenderness where the tendon attaches to the bone. The pain, often a dull ache, is usually present when the joint is moved. Tendonitis can also cause mild swelling around the sore joint.
Diagnosis of Tendonitis
If you think you have tendonitis, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a physical exam, where you can describe your symptoms and he or she will evaluate the area. Tendonitis can usually be diagnosed just based on the physician’s exam. However, these additional tests may be performed:
- An MRI to see if the tendon is inflamed
- Injecting an anesthetic into the area to see if the pain diminishes.
- Testing to see if there’s an infection. This is done by taking fluid from the area.
- X-rays to see if there are other injuries or problems in the area
Treatment for Tendonitis
The frontline method for treating tendonitis is usually the RICE technique: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Medications, such as aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
If you have tendonitis, you can prevent it from getting worse by strengthening the area with stretching exercises and wearing a brace, band or splint on the injured area.
Patients who experience more severe tendonitis may need an injection that contains a steroid called cortisone and a numbing medication. Physical therapy and surgery may be recommended for more severe cases.