Causes and Symptoms
Tendonitis is very simply the inflammation or irritation of a tendon anywhere in your body. A tendon is a cord that connects bone to muscle. The most common cause of tendonitis is overuse through low-impact motions that repeat time and time again. An example of a typical tendonitis injury is tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is just tendonitis that is located in the elbow joint as a result of swinging the racket over and over. Rather than some kind of blunt trauma leading to the injury, this condition is just a result of too much use of the tendon. In some cases, however, tendonitis can develop as a side effect of another, more traumatic, injury.
While any tendon is susceptible to tendonitis, some areas are more commonly affected than others. The elbow, shoulders, knees, and Achilles tendon are all places where many people have experienced tendonitis at some point. Athletes are certainly at risk for tendonitis when they play their respective sports frequently and use the same tendons to complete repetitive motions. Non-athletes can also find themselves with tendonitis, from a variety of causes. If your work requires the same physical actions time and again, like bending over and lifting for example, you could develop tendonitis in areas that are used excessively each day.
Symptoms of tendonitis often come on gradually and get worse the longer they are left untreated. What will start as a slight pain or discomfort can reach the point of no longer being able to move in a certain fashion because of the severe pain. Calcium deposits can also develop at the site of the tendonitis, which can create a very sharp pain instead of the dull ache that is more commonly associated with tendonitis.
The best way to treat your tendonitis is to not get it in the first place. Try to slowly work into any physical activity, especially if you are not in good physical condition to being with. Any repetitive motion should be avoided if at all possible, and you should always stop at the first sign of unusual pain or discomfort. If you have already been afflicted with tendonitis, simple treatments like ice and rest are a good start toward getting your tendon healthy once again.
Physical therapy is recognized as one of the best ways to deal with tendonitis so that the injury is removed and the area affected returns to the condition it was in previously, if not stronger. Your physical therapist will analyze your tendonitis and create a plan that includes range of motion exercises and appropriate stretches. At first, these activities will work to reduce the pain and discomfort being experienced with the tendonitis. Once that is accomplished, the goal will become to strengthen the area so that the tendonitis is not a recurring problem and the patient can go about their normal life with no long term side effects or disabilities. The length of time that tendonitis needs to improve depends greatly on the injury itself and your physical condition, so speak with your physical therapist and make sure your plan is just right for you and your needs.