A tendon is a tough and flexible tissue that connects muscles to bones that helps you jump, walk, and move in general. These tendons are all over your body, from the tiny ones found in the fingers to the large, cord-like ones in your legs. Normally, bending or flexing your joints will cause the tendon in that joint to extend or contract normally. Occasionally though, the tendons will become inflamed. This is known as tendonitis.
Tendonitis is almost always caused by overusing or overstressing the tendon. Doing the same motion over and over again (e.g., a tennis player swinging the racket) can eventually cause harm to the tendon.
Symptoms and Treatment
With tendonitis, there is generally tenderness or a dull ache in and around the area of the tendon. You may experience pain and stiffness in the joint near the tendon, especially after use. The tendon can swell and the skin can feel warm to the touch.
Treatment for tendonitis is usually conservative. An orthopaedic may suggest or prescribe the following:
- Rest the injured tendon. While it may be difficult to stop doing the activity that caused the injury, giving your tendon a break for a while is a super important part of letting it heal.
- Ice it. Ice will help decrease swelling and can reduce pain.
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Medications such as ibuprofen and Motrin can help to lessen pain and swelling.
- Take breaks. If you’re not able to fully stop the action that caused the tendonitis, try taking breaks. Vary how you use the tendons to help keep it from becoming too much for it to handle.
- Protect the tendon. If chronic tendonitis is an issue, removable splints or straps can be used during activities that traditionally strain the tendon.
- Consider a cortisone shot. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that is injected right into the inflamed tendon.
- Practice strengthening exercises and physical therapy. Once the inflammation of tendonitis has subsided, work on strengthening the muscles and tendons in a safe, gentle way.
When you feel pain or stiffness in a joint, it’s important to see an orthopaedic doctor as soon as possible to determine what the cause of the pain is. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can begin to get you back to doing the activities you love.
If you are experiencing symptoms similar to what we’ve described here and would like to meet with an orthopaedic specialist, give us a call at 904-825-0540 or request an appointment online.