When a person overuses or injures a tendon during, for example, the playing of sports, tendinitis, also known as tendonitis, can result. Being the inflammation of a tendon, tendinitis is normally linked to an acute injury and it often affects the elbow, wrist, finger, thigh, and other parts of the body.
Usually tendonitis is caused by the overuse of a tendon in the course of work, athletics, or daily activities. This condition is most often associated with repetitive movements such as that caused by assembly line work. It also happens in sports like golf or tennis where an action is repeated excessively. Even though tendinitis can be caused by a sudden injury, the condition is much more likely to stem from the repetition of a particular movement over time. In most cases people develop tendinitis because their jobs or hobbies involve repetitive motions, which put stress on the tendons.
It is especially important to use proper technique when performing repetitive sports movements or job-related activities. The repeated use of improper technique can overload the tendon — which can occur, for instance, with tennis elbow — and lead to tendinitis. The injury can become aggravated without proper treatment and tendinitis can increase your risk of experiencing tendon rupture. Tendon rupture is a much more serious condition that may require you to undergo surgery.
Tendinitis and Sports Injuries
It is possible for tendinitis to occur at any age, but it is more common among adults who do a lot of sports. Also older people are susceptible because the tendons we frequently use tend to lose elasticity and become weaker with age. Commonly tendonitis is seen more in people over 40 with the risk and severity of symptoms typically increasing with age.
Similar problems may occur in different parts of the body and the body part that is involved may give the injury its name, for example, Achilles tendinitis. There are other familiar terms such as pitcher's shoulder, tennis or golfer's elbow, and jumper's knee. The signs and symptoms of tendinitis tend to occur at the point where a tendon attaches to a bone.
Tendonitis may sometimes be caused by direct injury such as a blow to the tendon. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are inflammatory disorders which can also give rise to both the sudden and persistent inflammations of tendons. The resulting pain is often described as a dull ache, especially when moving the affected limb or joint. Tenderness and mild swelling have also been observed.
A condition known as tendinosis may develop if tendon irritation persists for several weeks or months with no treatment. Tendinosis involves degenerative changes in the tendon, along with abnormal new blood vessel growth. During an office visit a doctor will ask about symptoms and carry out a physical examination. In the course of this when the physician attempts to move the tendon, a creaky sound may be heard. Usually this happens because the tendon sheath has become thicker and inflamed.
Tendinitis may be indicated if there is tenderness at one specific point in the tendon. If the problem does not go away with rest, ice, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, the doctor may recommend some tests. In this event an x-ray can show up calcium deposits around the tendon, which may help confirm a diagnosis. In other cases different imaging tests, such as ultrasound or MRI, may reveal swelling of the tendon sheath.
Possible treatments of tendinitis may include icing the area the day of the injury, resting the injured area, and avoiding activities that aggravate the problem. You may also try using topical anti-inflammatory gels or taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. But see your doctor if the condition does not improve in a week as you may need more advanced treatments. These might include corticosteroid injections, physical therapy or surgery.