The tendon is a fibrous cord that connects muscle to bone. When this fibrous material becomes inflamed, it is called tendonitis.
Although any tendon can be affected, the most commonly affected are the tendons of the elbow, shoulder, wrist, knee, and ankle. Tendonitis can often be associated with bursitis.
What Causes Tendonitis?
Tendonitis can be considered an overuse disorder. It has been linked to repetitive movements/stress, sudden injury (practicing a backhand swing), or forceful movements (think weightlifting).
What Are The Symptoms of Tendonitis?
Symptoms of tendonitis are:
- A lump on the tendon
- Pain that worsens with movements; sometimes radiating from the area of injury
- Anti-inflammatory creams
- Cortisone injections
How Is Tendonitis Diagnosed?
When diagnosing tendonitis, doctors typically begin by obtaining a history. Getting information as to the nature of the activity before, during, and after the injury helps to determine the possible cause of injury. The doctor will also perform a physical exam. There will be tenderness along the affected tendon and there will also be a pain with certain movements. If a definitive diagnosis cannot be determined or to rule out a more serious injury to the area an ultrasound or MRI may be obtained.
How to Treat Tendonitis?
The treatment for tendonitis follows the acronym RICE.
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Over-the-counter medications (Tylenol)
- Physical and/or Occupational therapy
- Support (braces/splints)
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections
Improvement in symptoms can usually be obtained in 2-6 weeks.
When to See the Doctor?
If you believe that you have tendonitis, you may decide to treat it yourself at home following RICE, immobilizing the area, and taking over-the-counter medications. However, you should see your physician if you have pain that does not improve with home treatment, pain increases, or the pain changes from dull to sharp as that can indicate a torn or ruptured tendon.
How to Prevent Tendonitis?
Tendonitis can be prevented by:
- Use proper body mechanics
- Stretch before exercise
- Slowly increase the intensity of weights and workout routines
- Rest often during exercise
- If you feel pain, STOP! Listen to your body
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“I was born into a family of gospel singers. My early ambitions were many. I was going to be a ballerina. I almost had that one come true until I tore a tendon, so I transferred from my toes to my throat and that’s where the talent settled.”