Tendonitis typically occurs in areas with joints, in the elbow, wrist or hand, where tendons connect muscle to bone. These cords can become inflamed, causing stiffness and discomfort. One major cause of tendonitis is performing various activities that require repeated action. In other instances, tendonitis becomes evident after an injury. Oftentimes, the pain associated with tendonitis comes and goes, lasting for days or several weeks before going away. Since symptoms often return to the same place at a later time, it’s important for individuals suffering from tendonitis to undergo treatment in order to prevent a chronic case from developing.
What is Tendonitis?
Tendons are the tough, fibrous cords that connect muscle to bone, allowing for movement through a pulley system. When these tendons become inflamed or irritated by repeated motion or an injury, this movement becomes difficult and painful. This condition is known as tendonitis.
Since tendons are located in different spots throughout the body, tendonitis can likewise be found anywhere in the body. Most cases of tendonitis are found in specific areas like the base of the thumb, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee and Achilles tendon. Oftentimes, the type of tendonitis is often named according to the area of the body it is located in, such as frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, etc.
The symptoms of tendonitis include pain, stiffness, numbness, swelling and loss of motion. Depending on other factors like overall health and other preexisting injuries or conditions, you may notice tendonitis because it comes on suddenly—especially when combined with calcium deposits.
In other cases, tendonitis discomfort can build up over time and affect you gradually. On a day-to-day basis, tendon movement should not cause pain. When the pain is gradual, you have a better chance of becoming used to it and taking longer to seek treatment. This, in turn, increases the risk of your tendonitis worsening and becoming a chronic condition.
Activities that Contribute to Tendonitis Causes
Most tendonitis causes include overuse or an overload of the tendons. For this reason, professional athletes and individuals with occupations that involve manual labor are most susceptible.
Although tendonitis in the shoulder usually occurs in baseball players, any activity where the arm is raised repeatedly can increase the risk of tendonitis. Therefore various labor-intensive workers, like masons, carpenters, painters and welders are especially at risk of developing some type of tendonitis in their shoulders. Similarly, tendonitis of the elbow is common in tennis players and athletes who partake in other sports that use racquets. It may surprise you to learn that something as simple as carrying a briefcase can contribute to some forms of tendonitis, as can pulling weeds or using a screwdriver.
Working out is another activity that can increase the risk of an individual developing tendonitis. Weekend warriors are people who engage in an activity only in their spare time. In regard to exercising, these people might work out strenuously but only for a few days during the week rather than gradually building up their stamina and strength.
Additionally, aging causes tendons to become more fragile and more likely to tear. As a result, people over the age of 40, especially men in certain occupations, have a higher risk of developing tendonitis.
Other activities that lead to tendonitis include many housekeeping tasks that require repetitive motions or awkward positions like:
- Gardening and raking
- Cleaning or scrubbing
If you exercise regularly, you should be conscious of your form, especially when performing any actions that involve throwing and pitching. You can also help prevent tendonitis by stretching and maintaining good posture whether you are at home, at work or exercising and playing sports.
Other Tendonitis Causes
Overuse and overload are the most common causes of tendonitis.
Diabetes and other chronic diseases, such as gout and arthritis, have also been associated with causing tendonitis. Pregnancy can cause a specific type of tendonitis of the wrist, known as Quervain’s disease. Additionally, the use of select antibiotics has been linked to tendonitis.
Understanding the Treatment Options for Your Tendonitis
Depending on the type of tendonitis you are suffering from, different treatment therapies can help. In more advanced stages, surgery is your best bet to offer relief from chronic tendonitis. This type of tendonitis is defined as an ongoing condition that cannot be relieved with other modalities of treatment.
At Cohen/Winters, our expert hand surgeons work with patients to create solutions that work best for them and their specific needs. In some cases, surgery may not be necessary and other treatments can be used. These include resting, icing, taking over-the-counter medications, undergoing cryotherapy, ultrasound, corticosteroid injections, splinting and physical therapy. When surgery is the only remaining option, our doctors create a surgical treatment plan that is minimally invasive and allows you to get back on track as soon as possible. By scheduling a consultation, you can discover treatment options and the ways you can benefit from the expert care of Cohen/Winters.