Tendinitis, also known as tendonitis, is an acute inflammation of one or more tendons in the body. The condition is usually related to repetitive strain, and it’s a fairly common diagnosis. Here’s what you need to know about tendinitis causes, treatment and prognosis.
Symptoms of Tendinitis
Because tendons are present in the joints of the body, most of the symptoms of the condition are localized around the joint. If you notice a dull, aching pain in or near a joint, combined with tenderness and possibly mild swelling, you are likely experiencing tendinitis.
Tendinitis is most often caused by repeated strain and overuse. This is very common in sports, which is why so many types of tendinitis (tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, swimmer’s shoulder and jumper’s knee, for example) are sports-related terms. That does not mean that only athletes suffer this type of injury, however; many patients who get a tendinitis diagnosis work in a physically demanding job rather than playing sports. Additionally, while tendinitis can occur at any age, it is common to see tendinitis in older patients, too, as tendons tend to stiffen as we age.
In most cases, when tendinitis is diagnosed and treated properly, patients will have a full recovery without any complications. However, if the pain is ignored or left untreated, it can lead to a condition known as tendinosis. This is a form of degeneration of the tendon at a cellular level, often without inflammation. It can also lead to tendon rupture, which is another – much more serious – condition.
Upon receiving a diagnosis of tendinitis, you may have several options for treatment and to alleviate your joint pain, including:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, which help relieve symptoms while you heal.
- Treating tendinitis with acupuncture, which can provide non drug-based pain relief while you heal.
- Corticosteroids, which are sometimes injected into the joint, but usually only for acute cases. Long-term or chronic tendinitis is not usually treated with this type of drug, as it can cause further damage or weakness in the tendon.
- Resting the affected joint. This is critical to preventing long-term complications. If you have tendinitis, you must avoid strain – particularly the type of strain that caused the injury in the first place.
- Gentle, doctor-approved exercises for the joint, which can help preserve flexibility and mobility.
Preventing Recurrence of Tendinitis
Once you have treated a case of tendinitis, there are several measures you can take to avoid a recurrence.
Improving flexibility is one way to prevent the condition from striking again. Additionally, it’s a good idea to make proper stretching and warm-up a priority before sports activities, as well as varying your movements and stopping an activity immediately if you start to notice pain in a joint.
Depending on the cause of your tendinitis, ongoing treatments, such as acupuncture can help, and it doesn’t hurt to consider lower-impact sports or activities.