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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.

Hip tendonitis and tendonosis

Tendonitis of the hip refers to inflammation of the tendon (connecting muscle to bone) and can cause significant pain. In most cases, tendonitis results from overuse of this muscle. Tendonosis refers to degeneration and tearing of the tendon.

Why choose UPMC Orthopaedic Care for tendonitis?

U.S. News and World Report ranks us as one of the best orthopaedic programs in the nation.

Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • Experts in sports medicine. As experts in preventing and treating sports-related injuries, we know the problems athletes face. We know you want to stay active and keep playing the sport you love. We use the most advanced treatments and therapies to make that happen.
  • Interconnected services. We offer one place for all your orthopaedic needs. Our doctors, nurses, and physical therapists provide complete care — from diagnosis through recovery and rehab. We coordinate all of your care, so all you have to focus on is getting better.
  • Many ways to rehab. We have more than 70 locations throughout the region where you can go for outpatient rehab.
  • Unmatched in research. We are leaders in the western Pa. region for NIH-funded orthopaedic research and clinical trials. We're always seeking better ways to diagnose and treat conditions such as tendonitis.
  • Specialty programs. With specialists in each type of orthopaedic injury and condition, we have the experts to cater to your specific needs. The Hip Preservation Program at UPMC Orthopaedic care specializes in hip problems from the mild to the severe, including hip tendonitis and tendonosis..

Contact UPMC Orthopaedic Care

To learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic experts, please call 1-866-987-6784.

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

Hip tendonitis and tendonosis symptoms

With tendonitis, the tendon inflammation can cause pain with stretching motions, swelling, warmth surrounding the area, tenderness, and redness.

With tendonosis, degeneration and tearing of the tendon can result in pain with stretching motions, as well as pain with use of the involved tendon.

Contact UPMC Orthopaedic Care

To learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic experts, please call 1-866-987-6784.

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 or activity modifications
  • 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.

Contact UPMC Orthopaedic Care

To learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic experts, please call 1-866-987-6784.