Tendonitis is diagnosed when a tendon, which connects muscle to bone, becomes inflamed or irritated. Tendonitis can develop at any age. However, as we age, tendons become less elastic and tolerate less stress.
Tendonitis can develop in any area of the body where muscles attach to bones. It is usually caused by repetitive activities. These activities can be related to a sport, a hobby or even work. The most common places where this condition occurs are the base of the thumb, knee, shoulder, hip, elbow, and Achilles' tendon. Often, it 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”.
Initially, you can treat tendonitis at home by 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, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. 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 become inflamed. Treatment from your physician may include corticosteroid injections at the injured site 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. If you think you have some of these signs and symptoms, The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help.
By: Jon Stiffler, PTA, Spine Center Coordinator