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Understanding Tendinitis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Understanding Tendinitis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Ever notice a sudden pain in your elbow, wrist, or other parts of your body? It might be your body’s way of telling you that you’re overworking a muscle or joint. This type of condition is known as tendonitis and is common in athletes who make frequent repetitive motions. However, you don’t have to be an athlete to get tendonitis. Even simple, everyday activities involving repetitive motions can leave you in pain.

With seasonal chores like raking leaves, shoveling snow, and other tasks that work your tendons around the corner, it’s important to familiarize yourself with tendonitis—which includes knowing who’s at risk, its causes, symptoms, and when to seek care.

What is tendonitis? Where is tendonitis most common?

Tendonitis – also spelled tendinitis – is inflammation of a tendon. Tendons are the thick, rope-like tissue that connects muscle to bone and helps them move in tandem together. Tendonitis can occur in almost any part of your body where a tendon connects muscle to bone, but the most common places for tendonitis are:

  • Elbow – Often referred to as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, this form of tendonitis causes pain where the tendons of your forearm attach to the bony bump inside your elbow. The pain can also extend along the inside of your forearm.
  • Achilles – Also known as runner’s heel, Achilles tendonitis affects the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles on the back of your lower leg to your heel bone. Pain from Achilles tendonitis typically begins in the back of the leg or above the heel.
  • Wrist – Wrist tendonitis (or mommy’s wrist) is inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles in your forearm to the bones in your hand. People who perform activities that put a lot of stress on their wrists, such as repeatedly lifting and holding a baby, are more prone to this condition.
  • Shoulder – Shoulder tendonitis involves your rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons in the shoulder that connect your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade. Some nicknames for shoulder tendonitis include pitcher’s shoulder, thrower’s shoulder, and swimmer’s shoulder.
  • Knee – The patellar tendon connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone and works with the muscles on your front thigh to extend your knee so you can kick, run, and jump. Knee tendonitis (also called jumper’s knee) is usually caused by overuse of the patellar tendon.

What causes tendonitis and who can get it?

Tendonitis is common in athletes who participate in sports that involve repetitive motions, such as baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, and running. However, regular activities like walking up and down stairs, raking leaves, painting, scrubbing, and shoveling snow can also lead to tendonitis.

Some people develop tendonitis at work, especially if their job requires repetitive motions, awkward positions, forceful exertion, or frequent reaching overhead.

Although tendonitis can occur at any age, it’s most common in adults above the age of 40. As our tendons age, they become less flexible and able to tolerate stress. Repetitive motions from almost any activity can injure a tendon, causing inflammation and pain.

What are the signs and symptoms of tendonitis?

The pain associated with tendonitis is often described as a dull ache, especially when moving the affected joint or limb. Sometimes, the pain can be sudden and severe. You may also experience tenderness or mild swelling in the area.

Whether your pain is gradual or comes on quickly, we encourage you to visit your nearest vybe urgent care for diagnosis and treatment.

What happens if you ignore tendonitis?

Not caring for tendonitis in the beginning stages can result in long-term complications, such as decreased mobility or permanent joint damage. Tendonitis that’s left untreated is known as tendinosis. Tendinosis is when the collagen in your tendons degenerates and can increase the risk of tendon rupture.

How do doctors check for tendonitis and how is it treated?

A vybe clinician can usually diagnose tendonitis during a physical exam. We may order X-rays if necessary to rule out other conditions that could be causing your signs and symptoms.

When diagnosed early, most cases of tendonitis can be easily managed by using the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation):

  • Rest – Rest is essential to tissue healing. Avoid any activities that increase your pain or swelling.
  • Ice – Apply ice to the injured area for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Use a cloth barrier between the ice and the skin to prevent skin cold injury.
  • Compression – Compress the injured area with wraps or bandages to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation – When possible, raise the affected body part above your heart. For example, if you have knee tendonitis, prop your leg up to help it heal.

For more severe cases of tendonitis, vybe can refer you to a specialist for physical therapy, orthopedic tendon injections, or other treatment procedures. If these still don’t resolve your symptoms, surgery may be required.

All vybe clinicians are licensed medical professionals with a wide range of healthcare knowledge, so you can count on us to recommend the best course of action in a comfortable, caring environment.

Feeling sore? Visit a vybe today

Our body often tells us when something isn’t right. If you have a sore elbow, heel, wrist, shoulder, or knee – even a sore finger or thumb – it could be tendonitis. vybe is here to ease your pain so you can get moving again.