Tendonitis (2023)

What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis (also called tendinitis or tendinopathy) is an irritated or inflamed tendon. Tendons are the bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones and help the body to move.

Tendonitis can develop in many places in the body, but is most common in the shoulder (rotator cuff), elbow (triceps tendon), wrist and ankles (Achilles tendon).

It can be acute (sudden-onset), such as tendonitis caused by a sports injury, or chronic (longer term), when a tendon gradually deteriorates, usually due to overuse or repetition.

What are the symptoms of tendonitis?

The main symptoms of tendonitis are:

  • pain and tenderness in the affected tendon, which is often worse when you move it
  • swelling
  • a grating sensation as the tendon moves
  • a lump on the tendon
  • weakness in the affected area
  • decreased range of motion

When should I see my doctor?

If you have symptoms of tendonitis that don’t get better after a few days’ rest, you should seek medical attention.

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How is tendonitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis of tendonitis is usually straightforward. A doctor is likely to examine the affected area and ask about how you injured the tendon. Imaging tests such as MRI and ultrasounds may also be necessary.

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How is tendonitis treated?

The condition often gets better with rest, but treatment may be needed if the pain persists. The best treatment will depend on which tendon is affected.

Tendonitis often only lasts a few days, but can last for longer. If you have a sore tendon, it’s important to rest it. You can apply ice packs and take pain-relief medication, and in some cases, using a brace can be helpful.

To prevent swelling, avoid hot baths, heat packs, alcohol and massages for the first few days. When it’s not painful, try to keep moving so the tendon doesn’t become stiff.

Rehabilitation exercises, as suggested by a doctor or physiotherapist, may also help you recover full movement and function.

If the problem does not get better, you may need treatments such as shock wave therapy (a physiotherapy technique), and injections of corticosteroids or other medications to reduce inflammation. In a small number of cases, surgery may be required.

Can tendonitis be prevented?

If you’ve had tendonitis before, you can help prevent further injury by making sure you warm up and warm down before and after exercising, learning correct techniques if you play a sport, and strengthening muscles in the affected area.

You may also need an ergonomic assessment of your workspace and adjust your chair, keyboard and desktop to help protect your joints and tendons from excessive strain.


Tendonitis? ›

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? ›

The main symptoms of tendonitis are:
  • pain and tenderness in the affected tendon, which is often worse when you move it.
  • swelling.
  • a grating sensation as the tendon moves.
  • a lump on the tendon.
  • weakness in the affected area.
  • decreased range of motion.

What triggers tendonitis? ›

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.

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