Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon.
Tendons are cord-like structures located where a muscle narrows down to attach to a bone, which is why tendinitis or bursitis often involves the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle. The pain it causes may be quite severe and often occurs suddenly.
The pain it causes may be quite severe and often occurs suddenly. As in arthritis, the pain is worse during movement. Unlike arthritis, the pain is often in parts of the body far from a joint. Tendinitis often results from repetitive use (overuse).
There are ways you can prevent these problems from occurring. These tips apply to all joints:
- Before strenuous exercise, warm up and stretch.
- Properly train for a new activity. Slowly increase the intensity of your workout.
- Engage in exercise and sports daily or near daily rather than just on weekends.
- Learn and maintain proper posture and body mechanics.
- Make sure sports equipment is the right size and fit for you, and designed for the sport you are doing.
- Avoid staying in one position for too long. Take rest breaks or change positions every 20–40 minutes.
- Stop any activity that causes pain.
- Avoid compulsive behavior, like “I’m going to finish this job even if it kills me!”
Tendinitis can occur from a sudden intense injury. Most often, though, it results from a repeated, minor injury of that tendon. Doctors call this repetitive stress or overuse.
To help prevent inflammation or reduce the severity of its recurrence:
Diagnosis of tendinitis and bursitis begins with a medical history and physical examination. The patient will describe the pain and circumstances in which pain occurs. The location and onset of pain, whether it varies in severity throughout the day, and the factors that relieve or aggravate the pain are all important diagnostic clues.
Treatment depends on the cause. In overuse or injury, you must reduce the causing force or stress. If tendinitis is job related, the doctor or physical therapist should review proper ergonomics, so you can work safely. Some patients may need joint protection advice and support of the involved region. Treatment can consist of any of the following:
- Rest. You should rest the injured limb or joint, at least for a short time. Failure to rest it will most likely continue your symptoms. If the problem is in a hip, leg or foot, you may need to stop stressful weightbearing activities for a short time. This lets the inflammation lessen.
- Ice. Ice may help reduce inflammation and pain. Ice the area for 10–15 minutes once or twice a day.
- Medicine. If your pain persists, you may need nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—often referred to as NSAIDs – such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. Topical (applied to the skin) forms of NSAIDs are now available and may reduce pain and inflammation without stomach upset. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) also can help relieve pain.
- Injections. Corticosteroid injections may provide short-term benefit in certain forms of tendinitis, and may be considered if you are unable to take NSAIDs. If an infection is present, you most often will need a proper antibiotic.
- Supports. Use of a cane in the opposite hand can help a painful hip. Splints or braces for the affected body part help rest and reduce stress on the body. If not, you may need custom-made braces and referral to an occupational therapist.