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What is Tendinitis?

Tendons are fibrous cords that anchor muscles to bones. Tendinitis is a condition in which a tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. Although any tendon can be affected, commonly the tendons around the joints such as the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles are involved.

Common names for tendinitis conditions include:

  • Swimmer’s shoulder
  • Tennis elbow
  • Jumper’s knee

Causes of Tendinitis

Tendinitis is usually the result of repetitive movements that put stress on a tendon. This can occur during work, hobbies or sports. It is more likely to occur if you use an improper technique. Tendinitis may also develop after a sudden injury. With increased age, tendons become less flexible and more prone to injury.

Symptoms of Tendinitis

Symptoms of tendinitis include:

  • Pain with movement of a joint
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Complications of Tendinitis

Untreated tendinitis can result in:

  • Tendon rupture that usually needs surgery
  • Tendinosis (degenerative changes in the tendon)

Diagnosis of Tendinitis

To diagnose tendinitis your doctor will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination. This is usually enough to make a diagnosis but imaging tests such as an X-ray may be ordered to rule out other conditions.

Treatment of Tendinitis

Mild cases of tendinitis may be treated at home by rest, ice application and over-the-counter pain or anti-inflammatory medications.

To treat tendinitis, your doctor may recommend rest, medications and physical therapy. Surgery may be recommended for persistent symptoms or if you have developed a tendon rupture.

  • You will be advised to refrain from the activity that stresses the tendon or causes pain.
  • Your doctor may recommend oral or topical anti-inflammatories or pain medication.
  • Steroid injections may be administered around the joint to relieve inflammation, but repeated administration over a long duration can cause weakening of the tendon.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) may be recommended. This involves obtaining a sample of your own blood and isolating the platelets and healing factors in a solution that is injected into the irritated tendon.
  • Physical therapy involves stretching and strengthening the affected tendon.

Minimally Invasive Treatment for Tendinitis

If tendinitis does not respond to medication or physical therapy, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive treatments for tendinitis such as:

  • Dry needling: A procedure where thin needles are inserted into the tendon to promote healing.
  • Ultrasonic treatment: A device that uses sound waves is inserted through a small incision to remove scar tissue in the tendon.

Severely injured tendons will require surgical repair.

Preventing Tendinitis

To decrease your likelihood of developing tendinitis you should:

  • Avoid repetitive activities for a prolonged duration
  • Try alternating activities
  • Improve technique
  • Perform strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Make ergonomic adjustments at the workplace
  • ABOS
  • AANA
  • AAOS

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