Tendonitis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Tendonitis which means inflammation of a tendon is often confused with the more common tendinosis, which has similar symptoms but requires different treatment. Tendonitis is referred to in combination with the body part involved, such as Achilles tendinitis (affecting the Achilles tendon), or patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee, affecting the patellar tendon).

Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, the thick fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone.

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How Does Tendonitis Affect Your Body?

Inflammation of the tendons causing tendonitis results from repetitive poor alignment of the joint. In a stressful joint position, the joint angle trigger some muscles to be shortened and some to be elongated away from their optimal length and irritation of the joint occurs as the body senses an injury.

What Are The Causes of Tendonitis?

Tendonitis can be caused by a sudden injury. It can also be caused by repetitive movement of joints over time. Improper technique can overload the tendon which can occur, for example, with tennis elbow and lead to tendinitis.

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What Are The Risk Factors of Tendonitis?

  • Age – With increasing age, the tendons become less flexible and makes it easier to injure.
  • Occupation – Tendonitis is more common in people whose jobs involve repetitive motions, awkward positions, frequent overhead reaching, forceful exertion and sports.

What Are The Symptoms of Tendonitis?

  • Tendonitis causes pain in the tissues surrounding the affected joint. Sometimes, the joint may feel weak, and the area may be red, swollen and warm to the touch.
  • When tendonitis is caused by an infection such as gonorrhea, rash, fever, or a discharge from the vagina or penis can also be observed.

Other symptoms vary accordingly:

  • Rotator cuff tendonitis – Usually dull, aching shoulder pain that cannot be tied to one location and often radiates into the upper arm toward the chest.
  • Tennis elbow – Pain in the outer side of the elbow and it may extends down to the forearm and wrist.
  • Golfer’s elbow – Pain occurs in the inner side of the elbow.
  • Jumper’s knee – Pain occurs below the kneecap and, sometimes, above it.
  • Achilles tendonitis – Pain occurs at the back of the heel or 2 to 4 inches above the heel.
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How is Tendonitis Diagnosed?

If the symptoms of tendinitis last for several months such as, for 6 months or longer, it is probably tendinosis. Further after diagnosing, X-ray is done for conformation.

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How To Prevent And Control Tendonitis?

  • Ease up – Avoid activities that pose excessive stress on tendons, especially for prolonged periods.
  • Mix it up – Cross-training is helpful in mixing up an impact-loading exercise, such as running, with lower impact exercise, such as biking or swimming.
  • Improved technique – If the technique in an activity or exercise is flawed, you could be setting yourself up for problems with your tendons. Get lessons or professional instructions when starting a new sport or using exercise equipment.
  • Stretch – Take time after exercise to stretch in order to maximize the range of motion of joints and the best time to stretch is when muscles are warmed up as this can help in minimizing repetitive trauma on tight tissues.

Treatment of Tendonitis – Allopathic Treatment

Medications used are:

  • Pain relievers – Taking naproxen sodium (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) may relieve discomfort associated with tendonitis.
  • Corticosteroids – Sometimes corticosteroid medication is injected around a tendon to relieve tendonitis. This can reduce inflammation and can help ease the pain.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment – This treatment involves taking a sample of blood and spinning the blood to separate out the platelets and other healing factors. This solution is then injected into the area of chronic tendon irritation; PRP injection in the region of chronic tendon irritation has shown promise in the treatment of many chronic tendon conditions.
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy includes exercise designed to stretch and strengthen the affected muscle-tendon unit.
  • Surgical procedures
  • Dry needling – This involves making small holes in the tendon with a fine needle to stimulate factors involved in tendon healing.
  • Ultrasonic treatment – This minimally invasive treatment uses a small incision to insert a special device that removes tendon scar tissue with ultrasonic sound waves.
  • Surgery – Depending on the severity of tendon injury, surgical repair may be needed, especially if the tendon has torn away from the bone.

Treatment of Tendonitis – Homeopathic Treatment

  • Rhus Tox – This remedy is the most recommended to get relief from the associated pain of the inflammation is a burning or bruised sensation.
  • Ruta graveolens – This is prescribed when there is slow repair and hardened masses in tendons with contractions of the flexor muscles.

Tendonitis – Lifestyle Tips

  • Rest – Avoid activities that increase the pain or swelling and rest because it is essential to tissue healing.
  • Ice – To decrease muscle spasm, pain and swelling, apply ice to the injured area for up to 20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression – Compressing the area until the swelling has ceased is helpful because swelling can result in loss of motion in an injured joint.
  • Elevation – If tendonitis affects the knee, raise the affected leg above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.

After resting for a few days, gently move the joint through its full range of motion to maintain joint flexibility.

What Are The Recommended Exercises For a Person With Tendonitis?

Stretching exercises can help in tendons to attach and making them flexible. Few stretching exercises include prayer stretch, calf stretch and quadriceps stretch for 30 seconds to a minute, in sets.

Tendonitis & Pregnancy – Things to Know

  • Pregnancy induced tendonitis is a common complication.
  • The joint pain caused by tendonitis can be relieved by using pain killers; aspirin is contraindicated.
  • Pregnant women need to be careful while moving or doing chores.
  • Report any unusual pain, if experiencing any.

Common Complications Related to Tendonitis

If left untreated, tendonitis can increase the risk of experiencing tendon rupture.

If tendon irritation persists for several weeks or months, a condition known as tendinosis may develop which involves degenerative changes in the tendon, along with abnormal new blood vessel growth.

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