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Quick Facts

Tendinitis

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
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Tendons are tough pieces of tissue that connect your muscles to your bones.

What is tendinitis?

Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon.

Tenosynovitis is similar. In tenosynovitis, the tendon inflammation also involves the protective covering around the tendon.

  • Tendinitis causes pain, especially when you move that tendon

  • It's most common in middle-aged or older people, because tendons weaken with age

  • It can also be caused by hard exercise or doing tasks that use the same motions over and over

  • Treatments include splints, hot or cold packs, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, for pain

What causes tendinitis?

Tendinitis probably comes from the many small injuries, tears, and general wearing out that happen as you get older. Important contributing causes include:

  • Overexercise or doing exercises the wrong way

  • Doing the same motions over and over

Certain disorders make you a little more likely to get tendinitis:

Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease, sometimes spreads through your body and infects a tendon.

Tendinitis can also occur as a side effect of some antibiotics.

What are the symptoms of tendinitis?

Symptoms of tendinitis include:

  • Pain when the tendon is moved or pressed

  • Sometimes, swelling and warmth

Tendinitis is most likely to happen to tendons in these parts of your body:

  • Shoulder (rotator cuff)

  • Hand

  • Upper arm

  • The back of your heel

  • The side of your knee

  • Near your hip bone

If tendinitis lasts a long time, the tendon can weaken and you may have:

  • Stiffness and difficulty moving (especially if your tendinitis is in your shoulder joint)

  • A feeling of snapping or catching when you move the joint

How can doctors tell if I have tendinitis?

Doctors can usually tell you have tendinitis based on your symptoms and physical exam.

Sometimes they do tests, such as:

How do doctors treat tendinitis?

Treatment usually includes:

  • Resting the painful area, sometimes by wearing a splint or sling

  • Heat or cold packs

  • Medicine (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs] such as ibuprofen) for pain

  • Sometimes a corticosteroid injection

Once the inflammation gets better, you’ll do exercises to help the tendon move more easily.

For severe cases of tendinitis, doctors may do surgery.

How can I prevent tendinitis?

To prevent tendinitis from coming back or lasting a long time, doctors will have you:

  • Make sure you're doing an exercise or activity the right way

  • Avoid doing the same motion over and over for a long time

  • Make sure the area where you work is comfortable and properly set up for what you're doing

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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