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Other Names:
Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow, Pitcher's Shoulder, Swimmer's Shoulder, Jumper's Knee
Tendinitis

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Definition

Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon. A tendon is a thick fibrous cord that attaches muscles to bone. This condition is characterized by pain and tenderness just outside a joint. The joints most commonly involved are your shoulders, elbows and knees and less commonly your hips and wrist joints.

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Types

Depending on the location, tendinitis can be:

  • Elbow joint - Tennis elbow.
  • Heel - Achilles tendinitis.
  • Groin - Adductor tendinitis.
  • Area just below your kneecap - Patellar tendinitis.
  • Shoulder - Biceps tendinitis.

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Causes

  • Normal and gradual wear and tear associated with aging
  • Direct injury during work or play
  • Inflammatory diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • An infection within the tendon sheath
  • Excessive repetitive motions of your arms or legs.
  • Improper technique in any sport

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Symptoms

  • Pain - Tendinitis in various locations in your body produces these specific types of pain:
    • Tennis elbow - pain on the outer side of your forearm near your elbow when you rotate your forearm or grip an object.
    • Achilles tendinitis - just above your heel.
    • Adductor tendinitis - in your groin.
    • Patellar tendinitis - just below your kneecap
    • Biceps tendinitis - shoulder pain.
  • Trigger finger - scarring and narrowing of the tissue covering that surrounds the tendon, causing it to lock in one position.
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness

All these symptoms are aggravated by movement and physical activity.

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Implications

Tendinitis may become chronic or long-term and can lead to the rupture of a tendon. Tendinitis can also cause permanent damage to the tissue that makes up your tendons.
Sometimes the discomfort of tendinitis disappears within a matter of weeks, especially if you rest the involved joint. In elderly people and those who continue to use the affected area, tendinitis often heals more slowly and is more likely to progress to a chronic condition termed tendonosis. This condition often involves a change in the structure of the tendon to a weaker, more fibrous tissue.

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What You Can Do

  • Medications
    • Steroid (cortisone) injections into the tissue around a tendon. This may reduce inflammation and help ease the pain. However, repeated injections may weaken a tendon , increasing the risk of rupture.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) like aspirin, tylenol or ibuprofen help relieve the discomfort, pain and inflammation.
  • General Remedies
    • Immobilize the affected area either by a splint, cast, elastic wraps, slings, crutches or canes to encourage healing and to protect it from further injury.
    • After a few days of completely resting the injured area, gently move it through its full range of motion four times a day to maintain joint flexibility.
    • Get adequate rest and avoid activities that increase the pain or swelling. Continue doing activities and exercises like swimming and water exercises that do not stress the inflamed tendon.
    • Apply ice packs to decrease pain, muscle spasm and swelling. For an ice massage, freeze a Styrofoam cup full of water so that you can hold the cup while applying the ice directly to the skin.
    • Compress the area with a wrap or elastic bandage (Ace bandage) until the swelling disappears.
    • Raise the affected limb above the level of your heart to reduce swelling especially at night.
  • Strengthening exercises to strengthen the force-absorbing capability of the muscle-tendon unit.
  • Surgery or a reconstructive operation is performed to clean inflamed tissue from the tendon covering or to relieve pressure on the tendon by removing bone. Tears in the tendon can be repaired to reduce pain, restore function and prevent rupture of the tendon.
  • Prevention
    • Avoid activities that stress your tendons excessively, especially for prolonged periods. If you notice pain during a particular exercise, stop and rest. Do low impact exercises such as biking or swimming until the pain and discomfort get relieved completely. Get instructions from a professional trainer before starting a new sport or using a new exercise equipment
    • Before you exercise, take time to stretch first; warm up before exercising and to cool down afterwards .
    • Use proper workplace ergonomics. At your workplace, get a proper ergonomic assessment. Fitting your workspace to your body is essential to ensure that no tendons are continually stressed or overloaded.

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Tendinitis