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Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon — any one of the thick fibrous cords that attach muscles to bones. The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint. While tendinitis can occur in any of your body's tendons, it's most common around your shoulders, elbows, wrists and heels.

Some common names for various tendinitis problems are:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer's elbow
  • Pitcher's shoulder
  • Swimmer's shoulder
  • Jumper's knee

If tendinitis is severe and leads to the rupture of a tendon, you may need surgical repair. But most cases of tendinitis can be successfully treated with rest and medications to reduce the pain and inflammation.

Complications of Tendinitis

Without proper treatment, tendinitis can increase your risk of experiencing tendon rupture — a much more serious condition that may require surgical repair.

Causes of Tendinitis

Although tendinitis can be caused by a sudden injury, the condition is much more likely to stem from the repetition of a particular movement over time. Most people develop tendinitis because their jobs or hobbies involve repetitive motions, which aggravate the tendons needed to perform the tasks.

Signs & Symptoms of Tendinitis

Signs and symptoms of tendinitis occur at the point where a tendon attaches to a bone and typically include:

  • Pain, often described as a dull ache
  • Tenderness
  • Mild swelling

Diagnosis of Tendinitis

Tendinitis can usually be diagnosed during the physical exam alone. Your doctor may order X-rays or other imaging tests if he or she needs to rule out other conditions that may be causing your signs and symptoms.

Treatments of Tendinitis

The goals of tendinitis treatment are to relieve your pain and reduce inflammation. Often, home treatment — which includes rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers — may be all that you need. Other treatments for tendinitis include:

Medications

Sometimes your doctor may inject a corticosteroid medication around a tendon to relieve tendinitis. Injections of cortisone reduce inflammation and can help ease pain. However, repeated injections may weaken a tendon, increasing your risk of rupturing the tendon.

Therapy

You might benefit from a program of specific exercise designed to stretch and strengthen the affected muscle-tendon unit.

Surgery

Depending on the severity of your tendon injury, surgical repair may be needed.

Prevention of Tendinitis

To reduce your chance of developing tendinitis, follow these suggestions:

  • Ease up. Avoid activities that place excessive stress on your tendons, especially for prolonged periods. If you notice pain during a particular exercise, stop and rest.
  • Mix it up. If one exercise or activity causes you a particular, persistent pain, try something else. Cross-training can help you mix up an impact-loading exercise, such as running, with lower impact exercise, such as biking or swimming.
  • Improve your technique. If your technique in an activity or exercise is flawed, you could be setting yourself up for problems with your tendons. Consider taking lessons or getting professional instructions when starting a new sport or using exercise equipment.
  • Stretch first. Before you exercise, take time to stretch in order to maximize the range of motion of your joints. This can help to minimize repetitive microtrauma on tight tissues. Remember to stretch after exercise too.
  • Use proper workplace ergonomics. At your workplace, get a proper ergonomic assessment. Fitting your work space to your body is essential to ensure that no tendons are continually stressed or overloaded.
  • Prepare your muscles to play. Strengthening muscles used in your activity or sport can help them better withstand stress and load.

When to seek Medical Advice

Most cases of tendinitis can respond to self-care measures. See your doctor if your signs and symptoms persist and interfere with your day-to-day activities for more than a few days.


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