Tendonitis is the term for inflammation or irritation of a tendon that causes pain and tenderness. It can occur in any tendon in the body, but tends to be most common in shoulders, elbows, wrists, and heels. Tendonitis is also sometimes called tendinitis.
How Do I Know if I Have Tendonitis?
You may have tendonitis if you have pain in a limb or joint and feel the pain most when you move that part of your body. The area might also be tender, and you may have swelling. Your sports medicine doctor can usually diagnose tendonitis with a physical exam, but may prescribe other tests (such as X-ray or MRI) to make sure you don’t have another injury.
What Causes Tendonitis?
Tendonitis is most often caused by overuse or repetitive motion. An athlete who performs the same skill over and over again can strain certain tendons. Tennis players and baseball players, for example, are at risk of tendonitis in the elbow; and swimmers may develop it in their shoulders.
How Is Tendonitis Treated?
Though tendonitis can be a hassle, causing pain and keeping you away from activities, treatment is often simple. It starts with an effort to reduce inflammation, and thereby pain. Your sports medicine doctor will first recommend resting and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and/or anti-inflammatory creams. As well, he or she may have you use the RICE orthopedic injury treatment if the injury is new or severe.
If you need more aggressive treatment, your doctor may inject your tendon with cortisone to reduce inflammation or use ultrasound to promote healing. Physical therapy may also be used as part of your treatment and rehabilitation, with the goal of stretching and strengthening the injured tendon. In more severe cases, tendonitis can be repaired with surgery.