Tendonitis refers to the inflammation or irritation of a tendon, which are thick cords that connect muscles to bones. This condition can cause acute pain and tenderness, making it challenging to move the affected joint. While tendonitis can develop in any tendon, it is most commonly found around the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and heels. It is associated with specific names based on its occurrence in various areas, such as Tennis elbow, Golfer’s elbow, Pitcher’s shoulder, Jumper’s knee, and Swimmer’s shoulder.

Causes of tendonitis may include:

  • Injury
  • Aging: Tendons become less flexible as individuals grow older, making them more susceptible to injury
  • Certain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
  • Certain antibiotics like Levaquin or quinolones
  • Jobs involving physical exertion, overhead lifting, or repetitive motions, which increase the risk
  • Participation in specific sports like tennis, bowling, golf, or basketball, which pose a higher risk

Symptoms of tendonitis commonly include:

  • Dull achy pain, especially when moving the affected limb or joint
  • Tenderness
  • Mild swelling

In most cases, tendonitis can be diagnosed through a physical examination alone. However, your doctor may order X-rays or other imaging tests if necessary to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.

Treatment options for tendonitis include:

  • Resting and elevating the affected area
  • Applying ice or heat
  • Medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) for reducing inflammation
  • Stretching and exercises to improve strength and mobility
  • Using compression bandages to wrap the area
  • For more severe cases:
  • Supports like splints, braces, or canes
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy

Taking preventive measures can lower the risk of developing tendonitis, such as maintaining physical fitness, warming up before exercising, avoiding repetitive motions, and using proper equipment at work and during athletic activities.

With early treatment, tendonitis often resolves quickly. However, for some individuals, it can recur and become a chronic or long-term problem. In cases where tendon rupture occurs or inflammation persists without improvement, surgery may be necessary. Surgery may also be considered for cases that do not respond well to other treatments.