Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon — any one of the thick fibrous cords that attaches muscle to bone. The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint. While tendinitis can occur in any of your body’s tendons, it’s most common around your shoulders, elbows, wrists and heels.
Some common names for various tendinitis problems are:
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Pitcher’s shoulder
- Swimmer’s shoulder
- Jumper’s knee
If tendinitis is severe and leads to the rupture of a tendon, you may need surgical repair. But most cases of tendinitis can be successfully treated with rest, physical therapy and medications to reduce pain.
Signs and symptoms of tendinitis occur at the point where a tendon attaches to a bone and typically include:
- Pain, often described as a dull ache, especially when moving the affected limb or joint
- Mild swelling, possibly
When to see a doctor
Most cases of tendinitis can respond to self-care measures. See your doctor if your signs and symptoms persist and interfere with your day-to-day activities for more than a few days.
Although tendinitis can be caused by a sudden injury, the condition is much more likely to stem from the repetition of a particular movement over time. Most people develop tendinitis because their jobs or hobbies involve repetitive motions, which put stress on the tendons needed to perform the tasks. Using proper technique is especially important when performing repetitive sports movements or job-related activities. Improper technique can overload the tendon — which can occur, for instance, with tennis elbow — and lead to tendinitis.
Risk factors for developing tendinitis include age, working in particular jobs or participating in certain sports.
As people get older, their tendons become less flexible — which makes them easier to injure.
Tendinitis is more common in people whose jobs involve:
- Repetitive motions
- Awkward positions
- Frequent overhead reaching
- Forceful exertion
You may be more likely to develop tendinitis if you participate in certain sports that involve repetitive motions, especially if your technique isn’t optimal. This can occur with:
Without proper treatment, tendinitis can increase your risk of experiencing tendon rupture — a much more serious condition that may require surgical repair.
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