How to prevent and treat Tendonitis?
Tendons are the fibrous tissues that connect the body’s muscles to the bones.
Tendons are very flexible and allow us to move our limbs in all directions. The human body contains over a thousand tendons from head to toe. They vary in shape and size depending on where they are in the body.
Tendons also save the bones and muscles from injury by absorbing most of the impact. Additionally, when a body is engaged in physical activities like running, jumping, climbing, etc., the tendons stretch flexibly with the muscles making the movements smoother.
What is tendonitis?
Tendonitis, also referred to as tendinitis or tendinopathy, is the inflammation and irritation of the tendon. Depending on the degree of tendonitis, the pain and tenderness caused by it can vary.
Anyone, irrespective of age and gender, can get tendonitis while doing strenuous activities and even some common everyday activities like gardening, bathing, playing, etc. Sometimes, maintaining an incorrect posture for extended durations can also trigger this condition.
Tendonitis and tendinosis are often confused with each other. While these conditions have similar causes and symptoms, tendinosis refers to chronic tendonitis. With time, tendinosis can become more serious and extremely difficult to treat.
Depending on the seriousness of the tendon injury, the symptoms can vary. However, some common tendonitis symptoms are:
- Pain in the affected tendon
- Inflammation and swelling
- Tightness around the affected area
- Difficulty moving the joint
What causes tendonitis?
Some of the common causes of tendonitis are:
- Repetitive physically strenuous activities
- Sports injuries
- Diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
- Antibiotics like Quinolones, Levaquin, etc.
Types of tendonitis
Depending upon which tendon of the body has been affected, tendonitis can be majorly divided into 5 types:
Achilles tendonitis affects the Achilles tendon, which connects the heel bone to the calf muscles. It is a very common sports injury caused due to extensive strain on the calf muscles. With proper care, it can be treated in 1-2 weeks.
The inflammation and irritation in the supraspinatus tendon lead to supraspinatus tendonitis or shoulder tendonitis.
The supraspinatus tendon is in the shoulder and is one of the common locations of tendon rupture. Repetitive strenuous activities and ageing are two of its main causes.
The wrist tendons connect the muscles in the forearms to the bones in the hand. There are a total of 6 tendons here that control the movements of the wrist, hand, and finger.
Lifting heavy loads for long hours and impactful injury can cause wrist tendonitis.
Trigger finger tendonitis
In trigger finger tendonitis, the tendon surrounding the finger becomes inflamed, keeping the finger locked in a bent position. It can be painful and highly inconvenient.
It is also referred to as tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis. In this condition, a person experiences pain they bend the elbow outwards. If left untreated for a long, the pain can travel to the shoulders and wrist.
When should I call the doctor about tendonitis?
Usually, minor tendonitis injuries can heal with 3-4 days of rest. However, if your pain does not go away, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Neglecting persistent tendonitis pain can lead to the development of chronic tendonitis. A proper diagnosis will allow you to know the extent of your injury and take steps for treatment accordingly.
When you visit the doctor, they will ask you to explain how you got the injury. Make sure you provide all the information to the doctor as accurately as possible. They might also ask you about your medical history to devise an informed treatment plan.
The doctor might recommend some physical exams such as X-rays and joint aspiration. To take X-rays, radiation is used to create a scan of your tendons, allowing the doctor to catch internal injuries. In joint aspiration, a needle is inserted neat the inflamed tendon to collect fluid from the joint and check it for infections.
How is tendonitis treated?
Some of the common treatment plans for tendonitis are:
- Applying heat packs and ice packs to the affected region
- Taking adequate rest before resuming strenuous physical activities
- Taking medication prescribed by your doctor
- Physical therapy
- Shockwave therapy
- Applying compression on the affected area by wrapping bandages
- Elevating the affected region to improve blood circulation
- Taking steroid injections for momentary pain management
- Undergoing surgery to remove excessively damaged tissue or repair a torn tendon
How can I avoid tendonitis?
There are some simple steps you can follow to prevent tendonitis:
- Warm up your body properly before beginning physically strenuous activities
- Wear proper exercising gear like shoes, belts, etc.
- Take frequent breaks while doing physically strenuous activities
- Make sure you are using the right techniques while exercising and playing sports
- Avoid sitting in the same position for long
- Take care of your posture while sitting
Dos and don’ts during tendonitis
- Make sure you do a proper warm-up before beginning your exercise regime
- Rest the affected area properly
- Make sure your screens are at eye level while working
- Don’t place an ice or heat pack directly on the skin
- Don’t stop the treatment before the prescribed duration
- Do not take any high-dose medication without a doctor’s prescription
- Do not keep following an exercise regime if it causes excessive pain
It’s crucial to visit a doctor if your tendonitis symptoms are not going away even after resting for a week or two. Make sure you reach out to a specialist orthopedic since identifying the pain point will be crucial. If you are struggling with tendonitis, you can always reach out to our Department of Orthopedics at the CK Birla Hospital(R) or book an appointment with Dr. Anuj Chawla
How long will recovery from tendonitis take?
You can recover from tendonitis if you get proper rest for one or two weeks. You can also take other measures, like hot/cold compression, pain medication, etc., to help you recover faster. However, if the pain persists, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
What triggers tendonitis?
Prolonged strenuous physical exercises can trigger tendonitis. Some other factors, like ageing, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., can also contribute to tendonitis.
What can a doctor do for tendonitis?
Depending on the severity of the tendonitis, the treatment your doctor recommends might vary. They may administer pain medicines to minimise discomfort. Sometimes physical therapy is also recommended to treat severe tendonitis.
Does tendonitis go away on its own?
You may recover from tendonitis with proper rest for a week or two. However, if your symptoms do not improve, we recommend visiting a doctor as soon as possible.