Tendonitis: Causes & Treatment
By Med-Fit UK Content Team . Last Updated Friday, 25th August 2023
What is Tendonitis?
Tendinitis refers to the inflammation of tendons, which are strong and flexible cords that connect muscles to bones, facilitating the movement of bones through muscular action. This condition leads to discomfort and heightened sensitivity just beyond the proximity of a joint.
Tendinitis can occur in any tendon throughout the body, but it is most prevalent in regions like the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and heels. In many cases, tendinitis can be effectively managed by incorporating periods of rest, engaging in physical therapy, and utilizing pain-relieving medications. However, persistent inflammation of tendons can result in tears, and in some cases result in surgical intervention. Tendinitis manifests as inflammation that primarily affects tendons—these resilient and adaptable fibrous tissues serve as connectors between muscles and bones. Tendons play a pivotal role in enabling bone movement by harnessing the force generated by muscles.
The discomfort associated with tendinitis often emerges near joint locations, occasionally leading to confusion with arthritis. This condition is more commonly observed among adults aged 40 and older, as well as among individuals actively engaged in athletic activities. Specific types of tendinitis are named after particular sports, exemplified by terms like tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, pitcher's shoulder, swimmer's shoulder, and jumper's knee.
What causes Tendonitis?
Tendinitis typically arises as a consequence of sports-related injuries or the repetitive execution of movements. However, its origins can also be traced to various other factors, including:
- Poor Posture and Walking Habits: Incorrect posture and walking patterns can contribute to the development of tendinitis.
- Infections: In some cases, infections can lead to the onset of tendinitis.
- Soft Tissue Stress from Abnormal Joints or Bones: Abnormal or poorly positioned joints or bones, such as disparities in leg lengths or joint deformities, can exert stress on soft tissues and trigger tendinitis.
- Arthritis and Related Conditions: Certain forms of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout) and related conditions can play a role in causing tendinitis.
- Metabolic Conditions: Metabolic disorders, including diabetes, can contribute to the development of tendinitis.
- Medication Side Effects (Rare): Although uncommon, specific medications like fluoroquinolone antibiotics and statins can potentially lead to tendonitis.
Tendonitis may arise due to a variety of causes, encompassing:
- Overuse or Repetitive Movements: Prolonged engagement in repetitive actions over time, such as running or throwing, can lead to tendonitis.
- Strain from Sudden Movements: Abrupt or forceful movements can place strain on tendons and result in tendonitis.
- Injuries: Physical injuries can directly contribute to the development of tendonitis.
- Medication Side Effects: Tendonitis can also manifest as an adverse effect of certain medications, including cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) or fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
Tendonitis can be influenced by various underlying medical conditions, including:
Treating TendonitisTreating tendonitis involves a comprehensive two-step approach designed to alleviate discomfort and restore functionality. The initial phase comprises several measures:
- Immediate Icing: Applying ice to the affected area on the day of the injury aids in reducing inflammation and soothing discomfort.
- Activity Adjustment: Avoiding activities that trigger symptoms is essential to prevent exacerbation of the condition.
- Rest and Recovery: Allowing the injured area to rest promotes healing and prevents further strain on the affected tendon.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications: An option a lot of people avoid, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
If tendonitis symptoms persist beyond approximately three weeks, additional interventions from a healthcare professional may be recommended, which can include:
- Corticosteroid Injections: These injections, often referred to as "steroids," rapidly alleviate inflammation and pain within the tendon.
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy entails a spectrum of techniques, encompassing range of motion exercises and splinting for areas like the thumb, forearm, or hands. The focus of physical therapy is multifaceted, aiming to diminish inflammation, enhance soft tissue mobility toward the muscle of tendon origin, restore movement, function, and strength over time.
- Surgical Intervention: Surgery is a rarity and reserved exclusively for severe symptoms that prove unresponsive to alternative treatments.
- 3 Mhz Ultrasound Machines: Specialized devices like 3 Mhz Ultrasound Machines offer remarkable treatment potential for superficial injuries, including tendonitis.
- TENS Machines: Notably, premier TENS machines have gained popularity among individuals contending with tendonitis, providing effective pain relief. Tens Machines for tendonitis is still a popular choice amongst the rest of the alternative methods of pain relief, due to it's non-invasive, non-addictive and subtle method of treatment.
Possible Risk FactorsTendonitis, a condition marked by inflammation in tendons, emerges due to various influences. These encompass age-related changes, occupational demands, physical activities, and specific medical considerations.
- Stretch and Warm Up: Begin with proper stretching and a warm-up routine to prepare your muscles and tendons for activity.
- Appropriate Gear: Wear well-fitted clothing, shoes, and equipment tailored to your activity to minimize strain on your tendons.
- Gradual Progression: Start slowly and progressively increase the intensity and duration of your activity to allow your tendons to adapt gradually.
- Listen to Your Body: Cease your activity immediately if you experience pain. Ignoring pain can worsen tendonitis or lead to other injuries.