Now that Spring is coming and the weather is getting warmer, we’re seeing an increase in patients with this tendonitis, mainly from playing outdoor sports and spending more time in the yard. In the majority of cases, tendonitis develops in people whose jobs or hobbies involve repetitive movements that aggravate the tendons, but it can also be caused by a sudden injury that tears the tendon and causes swelling (inflammation), according to Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA, Westchester Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine specialist, in his recent blog on the subject.
According to Dr. Weinstein, tendonitis can occur in any tendon in the body, but here are the most common types:
- Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis): This type of tendonitis involves the tendons which insert on the outside of the elbow and attach to the muscle that enables you to extend your wrist and finger. Although this is known as tennis elbow, most of the patients I see with this condition do not play tennis.
- Golfer’s elbow: This condition causes pain where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. The pain might spread into your forearm and wrist. Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, which occurs on the outside of the elbow.
- Rotator cuff tendonitis: The shoulder rotator cuff is made up of the 4 tendons that originate from the muscles that aid in shoulder movement. Each of these tendons help move the shoulder in different ways. Injury to the rotator cuff can happen during a trauma, like a fall, but more frequently it occurs from overuse, such as shoveling snow in the winter or playing too much softball in the summer.
- Patellar tendonitis: This condition involves the tissue that connects the kneecap (patellar) to the shin bone (patellar tendon) which runs from the knee cap to the tibia. Running or repetitive jumping is a common cause of tendonitis in this area.
- Achilles tendonitis: Like patella tendonitis, Achilles tendonitis is also common in runners and jumpers. Note: Prolonged Achilles tendonitis can put the Achilles tendon at risk for rupture.
- Gluteus medieus tendonitis: This is a common tendonitis which occurs near the hip. It usually causes pain with walking or jogging and is often associated with hip bursitis.
The best ways to treat tendonitis
Dr. Weinstein advises that tendonitis often gets better within a few weeks, but more persistent cases can last for several months. Here are the most common treatments that bring about the best outcomes:
When you first injure your tendon, stop the activity that caused the injury and try to avoid any activities that cause your pain to get worse. This can help prevent any further damage and allow the tendon to heal.
- Ice packs
Regularly applying an ice pack to the affected area during the first few days after the injury may help ease the pain and swelling.
- OTC pain medication
Mild pain can sometimes be treated with over-the-counter painkillers, either pills or a gel applied directly to the affected area.
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy for tendon injuries often involves a special exercise program to help stretch and strengthen the injured tendon and surrounding muscles.
- Corticosteroid injections
Corticosteroids can be injected around injured tendons to reduce pain and inflammation. They can also be combined with local anesthetic to further relieve pain.
Surgery may be an option for some tendon injuries, but this is often considered as a last resort. Tendonitis surgery is not always effective and carries a risk of complications such as wound infections, scarring and rupturing of the affected tendon.
To read Dr. Weinstein’s blog in full, click here.