Tendonitis is when a tendon swells (becomes inflamed) after an injury. It can cause joint pain and stiffness, and affect how a tendon moves. You can treat a mild tendon injury yourself and it should feel better within 2 to 3 weeks.
How to treat tendonitis yourself
Follow these steps for 2 to 3 days to help manage pain and support the tendon.
- Rest: try to avoid moving the tendon for 2 to 3 days.
- Ice: put an ice pack (or try a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel on the tendon for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
- Support: wrap an elastic bandage around the area, use a tube bandage, or use a soft brace. You can buy these from pharmacies. It should be snug, not tight.
It's important to take a bandage or brace off before going to bed.
When you're able to move the injured area without pain stopping you, try to keep moving it so the joint does not become stiff.
To help prevent further injury or pain, try to avoid:
- heavy lifting, strong gripping or twisting actions that make the symptoms worse
- playing any sport until the tendon has recovered
A pharmacist may be able to help with tendonitis
They may also recommend an ibuprofen gel to rub on your skin.
Symptoms of tendonitis
There are tendons all over your body. They connect your muscles to bones in your joints, for example, in your knees, elbows and shoulders.
The main symptoms of tendonitis are:
- pain in a tendon that gets worse when you move
- difficulty moving the joint
- feeling a grating or crackling sensation when you move the tendon
- swelling, sometimes with heat or redness
If the pain is sudden and severe, and happened during an accident or activity, you may have torn (ruptured) a tendon.
You might have heard a popping or snapping sound when the pain started.
Urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 if:
- you have injured a joint and your symptoms do not improve within a few weeks
- you're in a lot of pain
- you think you have ruptured a tendon
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
You could also go to your nearest urgent treatment centre.
Treatment for tendonitis
A GP may prescribe a stronger painkiller or suggest you use an ibuprofen gel on your skin to ease the pain.
If the pain is severe, lasts a long time, or your movement is limited, you may be referred for physiotherapy. You can also see a physiotherapist privately.
If physiotherapy does not help, you may be referred to a doctor who specialises in muscles and bones (orthopaedic specialist) or a local musculoskeletal clinic.
Some people with severe tendonitis may be offered:
- steroid injections, which may provide short-term pain relief
- surgery to remove damaged tissue or repair a ruptured tendon
Preventing tendon problems
Tendonitis is usually caused by sudden, sharp movements or repetitive exercise, such as running, jumping or throwing.
It can also be caused by repetitive movements, or having poor posture or technique while at work or when playing a sport. This is known as repetitive strain injury (RSI).
You cannot always prevent tendonitis. But there are things you can do to help reduce the chance of a tendon injury.
warm up before exercising and gently stretch afterwards
wear supportive shoes or insoles for exercise
take regular breaks from repetitive exercises
do not overexercise tired muscles
do not start a new sport without some training or practice
do not do the same repetitive exercises
Video: What is tendonitis?
This animation explains what tendonitis is and what causes it.
Media last reviewed: 1 April 2021
Media review due: 1 April 2024
Page last reviewed: 09 June 2023
Next review due: 09 June 2026
Tendinitis is inflammation of the thick fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. These cords are called tendons. The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint. Tendinitis can occur in any tendon. But it's most common around shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and heels.What is the main treatment for tendonitis? ›
To treat tendinitis at home, use rest, ice, compression and elevation. This treatment can help speed recovery and help prevent more problems. Rest. Avoid doing things that increase the pain or swelling.What are 3 common symptoms of tendonitis? ›
- pain and tenderness in the affected tendon, which is often worse when you move it.
- a grating sensation as the tendon moves.
- a lump on the tendon.
- weakness in the affected area.
- decreased range of motion.
What causes tendonitis and tenosynovitis? The cause of tendonitis and tenosynovitis is often not known. They may be caused by strain, overuse, injury, or too much exercise. Tendonitis may also be related to a disease such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or infection.Does tendonitis go away on its own? ›
Tendons are bands of strong connective tissue that attach muscle to bone. The symptoms of tendinopathy include pain, swelling and reduced function. Tendinopathy commonly affects the shoulder, wrist, knee, shin and heel. Tendinopathy usually heals on its own.What is the fastest way to get rid of tendonitis? ›
Rest: try to avoid moving the tendon for 2 to 3 days. Ice: put an ice pack (or try a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel on the tendon for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Support: wrap an elastic bandage around the area, use a tube bandage, or use a soft brace. You can buy these from pharmacies.How long does it take for a tendonitis to heal? ›
A mild case of tendonitis takes about 2-3 weeks to heal on average while chronic tendonitis takes about 6 weeks to heal completely.Should I massage tendonitis? ›
Massage therapy has been proven to be a great alternative to traditional pain management. For people suffering from tendonitis, it can help with pain relief and speed up the recovery process.Is heat or ice better for tendonitis? ›
If you experience a sudden injury to a tendon, ice can reduce pain and swelling. Ice the area for 15 to 20 minutes every 4 to 6 hours — and put a towel or cloth between the ice pack and your skin. Heat may be more helpful for chronic tendon pain, often called tendinopathy or tendinosis.What happens if tendonitis left untreated? ›
If tendonitis is left untreated, you could develop chronic tendonitis, a tendon rupture (a complete tear of the tendon), or tendonosis (which is degenerative). Chronic tendonitis can cause the tendon to degenerate and weaken over time.
Yes, walking can be an important part of your rehab and recovery from gluteal tendinopathy, but there are some factors to consider. If you overdo it, it can actually make things worse. In this article we'll look at how you should adapt your walking to aid your recovery.What makes tendonitis worse? ›
There's a weakness in the muscle or one of the surrounding muscles, lots of muscle tension, and a history of repetitive movement under load. All of these affect each other and one will cause the other to get worse.Does tendonitis show up on xray? ›
Diagnosis. To diagnose tendinitis, a doctor will perform a physical examination and discuss the symptoms since tendons are soft tissues X-rays aren't usually helpful.What will a doctor do about tendonitis? ›
Cold and heat therapy. Medicine such as painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory medication. Compression. Immobilization of the affected area.How do you test for tendonitis? ›
Doctors examine the affected area to look for swelling, redness, or warmth. They also feel for bumps beneath the skin, which may indicate swollen bursae. Doctors use their hands to gently move the affected part of the body to see if bursitis or tendinitis are limiting range of motion or causing pain.Is stretching good for tendonitis? ›
Does Stretching Help Tendonitis? Quick answer, stretching certainly can help decrease the resting tension of the inflamed or degenerative tendon. It is important to note that you need to make sure that your injury is indeed tendonitis. Stretching is not indicated for tendon tears or ruptures.Does drinking water help heal tendonitis? ›
Not drinking enough water will essentially slow down your body's ability to heal after an injury. This includes an injury to a bone such as a: fracture, an injury to the tendon such as tendonitis, injury to a ligament such as a strain or sprain, or injury to the skin as in laceration or a cut.What can I rub on tendonitis? ›
Topical arthritis creams or sports creams can offer temporary relief for a few hours for minor arthritis and muscle pain. These products usually contain 1 or more active ingredients such as cajuput oil, camphor, capsaicin, clove oil, menthol, methylsalicylate, or trolamine salicylate.What is the best home remedy for tendonitis? ›
- Icing & Heating. Taking ibuprofen to relieve inflammation helps, but another non-pill related form is icing. ...
- Compression. ...
- Herbs. ...
- Food. ...
Most cases of tendinitis can be successfully treated with physical therapy. Eccentric strengthening has been shown to be very effective for chronic tendon issues, and manual therapy such as certain types of massage can help promote healing.
If your healthcare provider gives you the OK, start exercising to strengthen the muscles around the sore joint within a day or two. Start with a long warm-up to reduce shock to the tissues. Then try lifting light weights or working with an elastic exercise band. Go easy at first.Can you reverse tendonitis? ›
The good news is that the tendon will heal naturally, meaning invasive procedures are unnecessary. Physical therapy and rest could be enough to heal the affected area.What are the do's and don'ts in tendonitis? ›
- DO stop the activity that caused the tendinitis right away.
- DO rest the affected area.
- DO take your medicines as prescribed.
- DO your exercises as prescribed.
- DO call your health care provider if you have side effects from your medicine.
Heat may be more helpful for chronic tendon pain, often called tendinopathy or tendinosis. Heat can increase blood flow, which may help promote healing of the tendon. Heat also relaxes muscles, which can relieve pain.What should you avoid with tendonitis? ›
- Alcohol – prolongs inflammation.
- Caffeine – known to bind to calcium and promote bone loss.
- Excess sodium – can counteract potassium.
- Sugar – reduce immune function, slow down wound healing and increase inflammation.
- Fried, processed foods – a rich source of pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.
You should wear a brace for tendonitis because the device helps restrict movement. Therefore, overexertion of the tendon or the affected area will be avoided. They also help when it comes to joint protection and reducing swelling and pain. While helpful, braces need to be selected and used correctly to be effective.Is biofreeze good for tendonitis? ›
For temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with arthritis, tendinitis, bruising, strains and sprains. Helps relax muscles and increase blood flow for less painful, more effective therapy.Does ibuprofen help tendonitis heal faster? ›
Anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen or Naproxen can form a useful part of treatment for some cases of Achilles tendon pain, but it is often over-used and prescribed for cases where it may have no effect or even interfere with recovery.Is tendonitis a form of arthritis? ›
In a word, no. Although both involve inflammation — arthritis is joint inflammation and tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon — having one doesn't directly cause you to develop the other. That said, these conditions sometimes overlap.Does tendonitis show up on MRI? ›
Changes to ligaments and tendons as a result of disease and injury can be demonstrated using both ultrasound and MRI.
Doctors may recommend over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to reduce inflammation in the bursa and tendon and relieve pain. These medications are typically recommended for a few weeks while the body heals.Can you push through tendonitis? ›
While continuing to move and keep the tendons under some resistance is critical to a faster recovery . Pushing through pain will only aggravate the issue and lead to chronic pain.Why is tendonitis so hard to heal? ›
Tendinopathies and tendinosis can respond initially to cortisone due to cortisones ability to calm the pain signals of local nerves. Thus, cortisone dulls your perception of the pain but does nothing to heal the tissue. In the long term, cortisone may prevent the injury from healing.How does tendonitis heal itself? ›
Rest, Nutrition, and Exercise
For mild cases, extended rest is all that's necessary to ensure that the tendon heals. The repair process takes several weeks, so you may have to take time off sports or physical activities that may further injure the tendon.
Stage I of Tendinitis
There is pain only after participating in an activity. An example of this would be lateral elbow pain (tennis elbow) after a tennis match. At this stage there are no limitations in activities, but the person should make sure that they are stretching and icing the area after activity.
It's also important to note that symptoms of tendonitis can resemble those associated with other injuries and conditions. Only an orthopedic specialist can truly give you an accurate diagnosis.What is considered severe tendonitis? ›
Constant pain that gets worse when you move. Swelling and inflammation. Skin that's red and warm to the touch. Feeling a lump or knot on the tendon.When should I see a doctor for tendonitis? ›
You should see your doctor if you experience any of the following: Fever (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Swelling, redness and warmth. General illness or multiple sites of pain.Is it bursitis or tendonitis? ›
While tendonitis causes pain during movement, bursitis can be painful even during rest. Bursitis is typically caused by repetitive joint movement. It may also be caused by an infection, sudden injury or inflammatory medical condition like rheumatoid arthritis or gout.What are the warning signs of tendonitis? ›
- Feeling like the tendon is grating or cracking when it moves.
- Swelling, heat, or redness around the affected joint.
- A lump or bump along the affected tendon.
Symptoms of tendinitis tend to occur where a tendon attaches to a bone. Symptoms often include: Pain, often described as a dull ache, especially when moving the hurt limb or joint. Tenderness.What conditions mimic tendonitis? ›
Arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis are three different conditions, but they share similarities. For many people, these conditions can cause pain and swelling, which makes it harder to perform even basic movements. The source of pain for all three involves inflammation, but the location of the inflammation varies.Does self massage help tendonitis? ›
Ice massage is the best self-care technique for preventing and treating tendonitis pain. I recommend performing ice massage two to four times a day, with the end of the workday being one of the most important times of the day to perform the technique.How long should I massage tendonitis? ›
The complete treatment should take about 3-6 minutes, and should be done at least once per day, and a maximum of three times per day. If it's going to work, you should feel immediate improvement in symptoms following each treatment.Can compression sleeves help tendonitis? ›
Compression therapy is a treatment option for elbow tendonitis that can help to reduce pain and inflammation. Compression therapy involves wearing a compression sleeve or wrap around the affected elbow joint. This helps to apply pressure to the area and can help to reduce swelling.What should you not do with tendonitis? ›
- Rest completely. Tendon pain stems from the tendon not coping with a given load. ...
- Have ongoing passive treatments. ...
- Have injection therapies. ...
- Ignore your pain. ...
- Stretch your tendon. ...
- Massage your tendon. ...
- Be worried about the images of your tendon. ...
- Be worried about rupture.
Heat may be more helpful for chronic tendon pain, often called tendinopathy or tendinosis. Heat can increase blood flow, which may help promote healing of the tendon. Heat also relaxes muscles, which can relieve pain.What is the best anti inflammatory drug for tendonitis? ›
Doctors may recommend over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to reduce inflammation in the bursa and tendon and relieve pain. These medications are typically recommended for a few weeks while the body heals.Should you push through tendonitis? ›
Do – Ease back on training. While continuing to move and keep the tendons under some resistance is critical to a faster recovery . Pushing through pain will only aggravate the issue and lead to chronic pain.Should I keep walking with tendonitis? ›
Even fast walking would likely be ok - but if too painful, try using an insert in the heel (available at most drug stores). This shortens the length of the Achilles tendon and relieves some of the stress.
Treatment most often starts with home care, including rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medicines. Your doctor may also suggest physiotherapy. For a severe or long-lasting injury, your doctor may prescribe a brace, a splint, a sling, or crutches to allow tendons to rest and heal.Does Epsom salt help with tendonitis? ›
Epsom salts are specifically thought to be a good treatment mainly for muscle pain from over-exertion (delayed-onset muscle soreness), arthritis, myofascial pain syndrome (“trigger points”), fibromyalgia, but also for speeding healing1 from minor injuries such as muscle strains and tendinitis.Is tendonitis permanent? ›
When properly treated, most tendinitis conditions don't result in permanent joint damage or disability.