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Tendonitis (Tendinitis)

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What Is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon — a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle.

With thousands of tendons in our bodies, it seems inevitable that we will experience some level of tendon pain, discomfort, or injury during our lives.

What causes tendonitis?

Anyone, at any age, can be at risk of tendonitis.

Repetitive overuse of the tendon and injuries to the area are the most common causes of tendonitis.

Activities that can cause this type of injury include:

  • Gardening
  • Raking
  • Carpentry
  • Shoveling
  • Painting
  • Certain sports

Tendonitis risk factors

Tendonitis risk factors include:

  • Poor posture
  • Lack of adequate stretching before exercise
  • Playing sports (tennis, golf, skiing, bowling, and baseball)

Types of tendonitis

Tendonitis affects some areas of the body more than others.

Achilles tendonitis

The Achilles tendon — also known as the heel cord — is the thickest tendon in the human body.

Found at the back of the leg, the Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscle to the heel of your foot. It enables you to pull your heel off the ground and push forward so that you can move.

Achilles tendonitis is a common injury due to overuse, or lack of stretching the calf muscles.

Kneecap (patella) tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis impacts the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. This tendon — along with the quadriceps muscle and tendon — helps you straighten the knee, while providing the required strength for this action.

Tendonitis in the kneecap occurs when you overuse or place repeated stress on the patellar tendon. This causes small tears in the tendon, which become too much for the body to heal on its own.

Overuse injuries to the patellar tendon are common among athletes in sports that require jumping, such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics.

Bicep tendonitis

Tendonitis of the biceps occurs due to friction and irritation of the biceps tendon.

Inflammation of the biceps tendon and synovial sheath causes pain when the arm and shoulder are in an overhand throwing motion.

Anyone who participates in continuous or repetitive shoulder actions are at risk of tendonitis of the biceps. Just as in other forms of tendonitis, these repetitive motions cause constant injury that the body is unable to repair on its own.

Make an appointment for tendonitis care

Request an appointment with a UPMC orthopaedic surgeon:

Tendonitis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Achilles tendonitis symptoms

Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis may include:

  • An ache in the back of the leg, just below your calf muscle
  • Pain that often increases after being active
  • Swelling in the area

There are plenty of ways to prevent this painful injury, including stretching and easing into a low-impact workout regimen.

Patellar (kneecap) tendonitis symptoms

The most common symptom of patellar tendonitis is a pain located directly over the tendon in the kneecap.

Often, your doctor can mimic symptoms by applying pressure directly on the inflamed tendon.

Tendonitis diagnosis

You doctor will perform a detailed medical exam to ensure that the tendon is the culprit.

Other tests to confirm a tendonitis diagnosis include:

  • X-rays to rule out bone deformities or arthritis
  • Blood work to rule out diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis

Make an appointment for tendonitis treatment

Request an appointment with a UPMC orthopaedic surgeon:

Tendonitis Treatments and Arthroscopic Surgery

Nonsurgical treatment for tendonitis

Once your doctor confirms a diagnosis of tendonitis, he or she may prescribe the following treatments for tendonitis:

  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching exercises
  • Ice
  • Elevation

Arthroscopic surgery for tendonitis

If nonsurgical treatments do not help your tendonitis, your doctor may recommend an arthroscopic surgical procedure.

During arthroscopic surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon will properly anchor the tendons.

After tendonitis surgery, most patients begin a rehab program that will stretch, strengthen, and restore range of motion.

Make an appointment for tendonitis treatment

Request an appointment with a UPMC orthopaedic surgeon: