What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is an inflammatory disease of the tendons, which are tough but flexible bands of fibrous tissue that connect muscles to bones. If the tendon becomes inflamed, it will be irritated by the muscle actions, making movement painful.

Tendonitis can occur in any tendon in the body, but the condition occurs more often in the ankle (achilles or posterior tibia tendon), wrist, kneecap, elbow or shoulder.

Tendonitis is usually caused by trauma, such as a sudden injury in sport or overuse when running. Other causes include inflammatory diseases such as reactive arthritis (formerly called Reiter’s syndrome) or rheumatoid arthritis.

Tendon problems are the most common among the middle-aged (aged 40 to 60). At this age, the tendons are not as elastic and forgiving as when they were younger, thus becoming more prone to injury.

All forms of tendonitis cause pain, swelling and tenderness surrounding the affected tendon. The onset may be rapid, such as coming with an athletic injury.

  • Achilles tendonitis causes pain and swelling at the back of the heel.
  • Patellar (kneecap) tendonitis, which is also called jumper’s knee, causes inflammation and pain in the tendon.
  • Posterior tibia tendonitis occurs near the achilles tendon, a less common condition whose symptoms occur on the inner side of the ankle.
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis causes pain in the shoulder.
  • Tennis elbow causes pain over the outside of the elbow. Although it is commonly associated with tennis players, it can occur in people who perform other sports or repetitive activities of the wrist and elbow.
  • Wrist tendonitis can cause pain and swelling around the wrist.

Treatments of tendonitis involve resting the area, raising the affected limb and applying ice to treat the inflammation. Patients may be given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to treat pain and help to decrease inflammation. Those with more severe inflammation may require a plaster cast.

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