The inflammation or irritation of a tendon (a cord that attaches muscle to bone) is called tendonitis. It is a kind of tendinopathy that should not be mistaken for tendinosis (chronic tendinitis). While the two may have comparable symptoms, their remedies are different. Also called tendinitis, it referred to by the body part that’s involved, like patellar tendinitis, which affects the patellar tendon (jumper’s knee), or Achilles tendinitis, which affects the Achilles tendon.
What causes tendinitis is a recurring minor impact on the affected body part or a severe injury. Aside from sports (tennis, skiing, golf, throwing/pitching, running and jumping in basketball, etc.), this condition may be caused by various daily activities at home, such as sweeping (the floor), gardening, raking, scrubbing, painting, shoveling, and carpentry.
At work, one may be at risk of tendinitis when practicing incorrect posture while sitting at the office desk. An abnormality in the joint or bone can also cause tendinitis. Psoriatic and rheumatic arthritis, gout, and thyroid disorders might bring about the condition as well. In rare occurrences, one may also get it from an infection of a cat or dog bite, especially in the hand or finger. The inflammation can happen anywhere from the base of the thumb, to the elbow, shoulder, knee, hip, and Achilles tendon – basically anywhere near the joints.
A person suffering from tendonitis can be treated in four ways: self-care, injections, therapy, or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. Some cases last for a few days, others take months. Read all about the various effective treatments for the tendon inflammation below.
Pain in the joints and muscles may be relieved by resting. If you are an athlete or someone who often engages in sports, you may want to stop anything that can irritate the tendons further. Give your knees, for instance, a break; to reduce movement, apply a bandage or brace. While you’re at it, apply an ice pack on the affected area to help get rid of the pain. Never put ice directly on your skin, as this causes cold burns. Instead, put a towel on the area before applying the ice pack; do this several times a day for 15-20 minutes.
Do not force your body into doing strenuous and painful activities, as this could lead to worse circumstances like a tendon tear or rupture. You can go back to your sports and other activities when the soreness goes away completely, which usually takes about a few weeks or more.
You can take painkillers if the soreness in the tendon is too much for you to handle. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help relieve the pain and ease inflammation. This treatment can also come as a gel that you can apply to the affected area. If you have any kind of liver or kidney disease, this may not be recommended for you, because it can complicate your ailment. You can also use paracetamol drugs instead of ibuprofen; in severe cases of pain, you can take stronger medication like codeine. But before taking a stronger drug, consult your doctor first.
1. Local anaesthetic injections
A local anaesthetic is used in surgical procedures to numb a certain area of the body. This is also used when a patient is suffering from tendinitis to stop the pain temporarily in the affected tendon, muscle, and joint.
2. Corticosteroid injections
Corticosteroid, which contains a kind of hormone called steroids, is injected around the tendon to reduce the swelling. Although it only produces temporary relief, you can get another injection six weeks after your previous injection. It is, however, not recommended to use this kind of treatment frequently, because it can worsen the condition, causing the tendon to split or rupture.
This kind of therapy involves applying pressure and manipulation around the affected area to improve function and movement. Exercises include massages, stretching, ultrasound (high frequency sound waves), and lasers. Compared to injections, physiotherapy may provide long-term treatment.
2. ESWT or Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
This treatment will only be recommended by a medical specialist when all other treatments do not work. It involves sending shockwaves through the skin to the injured tendon, and may need more than one session. Along with the therapy, a local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area so as not to feel any discomfort.
But before being considered for ESWT, you need to pass the clinical trial to see how effective the therapy is for you.
While common cases of tendinitis can heal over time, there are others like tennis elbow, biceps tendinitis, and calcific tendinitis that may require surgery.
1. Tennis elbow
Tennis elbow is the pain in the elbow due to overuse of the arm, hand, and forearm), procedures may need to remove the damaged area of the muscle from the elbow; part of a ligament in the elbow; or damaged nerve in the elbow. It will take about four to six months after surgery for a patient to get back to his/her daily physical activities.
2. Biceps tendinitis
Surgery for biceps tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon in the upper arm) may be carried out if the patient experiences excruciating pain. The surgery involves reattaching the end of the tendon to the bone in the humerus.
3. Calcific/calcifying tendinitis
For calcific tendinitis (build-up of calcium in the calcific deposit or rotator cuff), arthroscopy surgery will be used to take out the deposits that have formed in the shoulder. The procedure is a keyhole (small cut) surgery used to inspect a joint and patch up any damage that’s detected.
In like many symptoms, it is best to see the doctor when suffering pain or discomfort near the joints. Avoid having to go through surgery by seeking medical attention ahead of time. Your symptoms may be caused by muscle tension or actual tendinitis. But the only way to be sure is to get yourself checked and treated.