Tendinitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Tendinitis- An Introduction

Tendons are Cabled shape Bands of collagen fibers that attach muscles to bones. They are flexible yet tough so that they can stretch and withstand tension.

Though taking some of the strain off the muscles is one of their main functions, they can also be injured by too much activity.

Inflammation of a tendon is known as Tendinitis. It is usually caused by overuse or injury of a tendon during physical activity.

A tendon can be inflamed by repetitive, overly strenuous exercise. This inflammation can occur anywhere in the body, including the elbows, ankles, or knees, and is known as tendinitis.

The name of the injury is given according to the body part affected, for example, Achilles tendinitis.

Most cases of tendinitis can be managed with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers.

Tendinitis can be either acute which is short-term or chronic in nature.

 

Types of Tendinitis

Any tendon in the body can be affected by Tendinitis, but there are certain types of tendinitis, which are particularly common.

 

Achilles Tendinitis Treatment

The thick band of tissue attaching the heel to the calf muscle is known as Achilles Tendon. This tendon helps a person walk, run, jump, and withstand a great deal of stress.

Achilles tendinitis is a common sports injury due to the stress this tendon endures. People with rheumatoid arthritis are also at a higher risk of Achilles tendinitis.

To Know More: Achilles Tendon Injuries- Symptoms, Causes & Recovery

Supraspinatus Tendinitis

The inflammation of the tendon at the top of the shoulder joint causing pain when moving the arm is called Supraspinatus tendinitis. It can make lying on the affected shoulder at night very uncomfortable.  

Injuries of the other tendons in the same area can cause a condition called rotator cuff syndrome.

Tennis or Golfer’s elbow

Commonly known as tennis elbow, Lateral epicondylitis can cause pain radiating towards the wrist on bending it outwards. 

Medial epicondylitis commonly known as a golfer’s elbow causes pain when bending the wrist towards the inside, which is more acute when trying to lift against a force.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tendons between the thumb and wrist causes de Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis. Thickening and swelling of the tendon sheath make it painful to move the thumb.

Trigger Finger or Thumb

Trigger Finger is a common condition that happens on a finger-clicking when straightened, becoming fixed in a bent position because of the inflammation and thickening of the tendon sheath in the palm. This causes restriction of the tendon’s movement,  making it unable to move smoothly.

Tendinitis of Wrist

Anyone who performs the same movements repeatedly with the wrist can become affected with Tendinitis of the wrist. It is most common in people who type and write a lot or play sports like tennis.

 

Symptoms of Tendinitis 

 Tendinitis has varying symptoms but they usually include:

  • Pain at the site of the tendon and surrounding area.
  • Pain that may gradually buildup or be sudden and severe
  • Tenderness and pain on moving the joint
  • Grating feeling
  • Swelling

Causes of Tendinitis

Usually caused by repeated, minor injury or impact on the affected area, Tendinitis can also be caused by a sudden, more serious, or acute injury. 

Result of repeated stress or overuse, causes of tendinitis could include:

  • Repetitive motions, such as chopping or typing for long periods
  • Poor posture
  • Unsupportive shoes
  • Excessive exercise or work

Tendinitis Risk Factors 

Though anyone can get tendinitis, it is usually more common in those who do some kind of repetitive activity. The risk factors include:

  • Profession: The people whose job involves repetitive movements, are at higher risk of tendinitis for example gardening, woodwork, painting, scrubbing, and playing sports like Tennis, golf, skiing, baseball, etc
  • Certain diseases can weaken muscles, like Rheumatoid arthritis, Gout, and certain Blood or kidney diseases.
  • Age: People with age 40 years or above because tendons tolerate less stress, lose elasticity and tear more easily as they age
  • Certain Medications like Fluoroquinolone antibiotics or drugs that lower cholesterol can cause tendons to tear. 

 

When Should a Doctor Be Consulted?

One should immediately consult a doctor if:

  • The pain suddenly worsens or one is unable to move a joint
  • One develops Fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • There is Swelling and redness 
  • One develops multiple sites of pain

 How is Tendonitis Diagnosed?

After a complete assessment of symptoms, the doctor carries out a physical examination to identify tenderness and a creaking sound if any, which can happen because of thickening and inflammation of the tendon sheath.

Dr. Tanvir Bhutani at Eva Hospital says that usually rest, ice, and OTC pain relievers are recommended.

However, if symptoms do not improve, additional tests like an X-ray to show calcium deposits around the tendon, are recommended.

These help to confirm a diagnosis. Swelling of the tendon is revealed by imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI scans.

Tendonitis Treatment

The First-line of treatment for tendinitis aims to relieve pain and reduce inflammation and includes:

  • Avoid activities that exacerbate the issue.
  • Rest can help the inflammation of the affected tendon to reduce.
  • A bandage, splint, or brace to help restrict movement.
  • Hot and Cold Therapy can decrease swelling in the affected area
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation

However, if there is no relief or improvement in the condition for more than three weeks, more advanced treatments are recommended which include:

  • Corticosteroid injections help to quickly decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy includes a variety of motion exercises and splinting of the thumb, forearm, hands, etc.
  • Surgery, though rarely required, is recommended for serious issues that fail to respond to other treatments.
  • Some specific stretching and exercises are sometimes suggested by a physical therapist to strengthen the affected tendon and muscle.

Prevention of Tendonitis

A common condition, tendonitis is usually difficult to prevent. Whereas avoiding overuse can reduce the chance of getting tendinitis, this can also be difficult if one has an occupation that requires repetitive movement.

However, the chances of getting tendinitis can be lowered by:

  • Adequate warming up before exercise
  • Gradual building up of the intensity of an activity
  • Playing sports regularly, rather than only occasionally 
  • Wearing proper shoes and appropriate gear 
  • Stopping if a certain movement causes pain
  • Working on strengthening the surrounding muscles to reduce the strain on tendons
  • Taking periodic breaks from repetitive activities
  • Learning proper posture positions for all activities.

 

Recovery 

It usually takes weeks to a few months to fully recover from Tendinitis. The recovery also depends on the severity of the injury.

Summary

A common overuse injury causing inflammation of a tendon, Tendinitis is more common in people who have jobs or play sports that involve repetitive motions.

Though in most cases the condition is managed with rest, ice, and OTC painkillers, additional treatments, therapies, and surgery may become necessary to support the healing process.

Dr. Tanvir Bhutani says that timely action is a prerequisite to a speedy healing process and freedom from pain.

One must consult the best orthopedic doctor near me on time to manage the condition and start the treatment.