What is Tendonitis?

By Jon Stiffler PTA

Definition of Tendonitis

Tendonitis is diagnosed when a tendon, which connects muscle to bone, becomes inflamed or irritated. It can develop at any age. However, as we age, tendons become less elastic and tolerate less stress. Often, tendonitis starts as a small pain that begins to worsen over time. It can also start suddenly with severe pain in the area affected. If left untreated, tendonitis can lead to adhesive capsulitis or “frozen shoulder”.

Illustration of tendonitis of the rotator cuff ligaments. JOI Rehab

Illustration of Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Causes of Tendonitis

Tendonitis can develop in any area of the body where muscles attach to bones. It is usually causes by repetitive activities. These activities can be related to a sport, a hobby or even work. The most common places where tendonitis occurs are the base of the thumb, knee, shoulder, hip, elbow, and Achilles’ tendon.

Treatment for Tendonitis

Initially, you can treat tendonitis at home. Examples of treating tendonitis at home are:

  • avoiding activities that aggravate the problem
  • resting the painful area
  • applying ice to the injured area on the day of the injury and each day after
  • taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
Laser Therapy for tendonitis in the elbow being performed. JOI Rehab

Laser Therapy can treat Tennis Elbow

In physical therapy, modalities like ultrasound, laser therapy, electrical stimulation, The Graston Technique can be used to assist in the healing process. In some cases, physical therapy is prescribed to address weaknesses or inflexibility in the surrounding muscles both of which can predispose the tendons to tendonitis. Treatment from your physician may include corticosteroid injections at the injured site. This is to treat the inflammation at the source and alleviate the pain. Some physicians may also use PRP injections to help the damaged area heal. PRP is not usually covered by insurance and is a self-pay service.


Most tendonitis injuries respond quickly to the treatments described above. Rest and decreasing the repetitive activity, modalities/medications for the inflammation and developing a program to increase flexibility and strengthen weak muscles. It is important to take care of these injuries as soon as they occur.

Written By: Jon Stiffler PTA

Related Articles:

To learn more watch this video by The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, Tennis Elbow Can’t Wait

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