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What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is an acute injury in which inflammation is the result of a direct injury to the tendon, which are the tough, flexible, fibrous tissue bands that connect the muscles to the bones. A tendonitis injury ordinarily occurs after a prolonged period of repetitive movement in which the collagen fibers and other tissues break down gradually, which leaves your more susceptible to a full tear and inflammation from injury.

Causes and Symptoms of Tendonitis

The primary symptom for tendonitis is pain in the tissues surrounding an affected joint. The area may also be red, swollen or warm to the touch. Tendonitis is typically caused by repetitive, minor injury to the affected area that causes small tears, swelling and tenderness. The types of tendonitis, and the activities that cause it, include:

  • Tennis elbow, which is an injury to the tendon of the outer elbow. Repetitive wrist turning or hand gripping are usually the cause.
  • Golfer’s elbow, which is an injury to the inner elbow tendon. Repetitive wrist turning or hand gripping are usually the cause.
  • Rotator cuff tendinosis, which causes pain at the tip of the shoulder and the upper, outer arm. Pain may become worse when reaching, pushing, pulling, lifting, raising the arm, or lying on the shoulder.
  • Jumper’s knee, which is common among people who play sports that require jumping, such as basketball or high jump. These movements cause the knee tendon to become inflamed or tear from overuse.
  • Biceps tendinosis, which causes pain in the front or side of the shoulder. The pain may travel down the arm or feel worse when the arm is raised overhead.
  • Achilles tendinosis, which occurs in the tendon on the back of the heel.

Household activities like gardening, scrubbing, cleaning the house, painting, carpentry or shoveling can also cause tendonitis. Other risk factors include:

  • Age. Tendinosis tends to affect older people because tendons become less flexible — which makes them easier to injure.
  • Occupation. Jobs that involve awkward positions, repetitive motions, vibration and forceful exertion can increase a person’s risk for tendinosis.

Treatment Options for Tendonitis

The primary issue with tendinitis is the inflammation, and so treatments are focused on reducing swelling as the tendon heals. Applying an ice pack to the affected joint for about 10 to 20 minutes every hour or so during the first one to three days after the injury will help reduce swelling. The ice pack should be pressed firmly against the joint, but you should keep a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. While you are healing, taking ibuprofen, aspirin or another non-prescription anti-inflammatory medication can help relieve pain and swelling.

In more serious cases of noninfectious tendinosis, your doctor may inject a corticosteroid drug or local anesthetic into the affected tendon and may refer you to a physical therapist for more specialized local treatments.

Depending on the location and degree of damage to the tendon, you may need to temporarily splint, brace or use a sling for the affected joint. If this is the case, you should make sure to gently and regularly move the joint to avoid “frozen” or stiff joint.

Orthopedic Health at Adena Health System

When it comes to treating tendonitis, the team of orthopedic specialists at Adena Health System is fully dedicated to get you the best care available and to connect you with a dependable doctor or physical therapist to help treat your condition as effectively as possible. Adena follows a conservative approach to care — beginning with the least invasive treatment available and progressing to more aggressive care to make sure you get the pain relief you need to live a happy, healthy life. Need help finding a healthcare provider? Search Adena Health System online or call 740-779-FIND (3463).

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