Also known as sinew, a tendon is a thick fibrous cord made of collagen and its function is to connect muscles to bones and to work in concert with muscles in pull and tug force movements.
Tendons are very strong and have much elasticity to withstand quite a bit of stress and tension but they are by no means infallible.
What is Tendinitis?
Tendinitis is sometimes referred to as tendonitis and it is the clinical condition which characterizes an inflammation or an irritation in a single tendon or a group of tendons. Although tendinitis most frequently occurs around the body’s major joints such as the shoulders, the hips, the elbows, the wrists or the heels; it can occur anywhere else just as well.
Symptoms of Tendinitis
Symptoms of tendinitis vary from one individual to another and they depend on the severity of the condition and its location. The most commonly reported symptoms are pain and tenderness as well as stiffness and swelling. Such symptoms of tendinitis will be further aggravated by movement.
Tendinitis present in different part of the body produces the following more specific and localized symptoms:
- Achilles tendinitis — This is also known as Achilles heel and causes pain which is just above the heel.
- Adductor Tendinitis — This is tendinitis of the groin area which is where the pain would also be felt.
- Patellar Tendinitis — This type of tendinitis is commonly referred to as jumper’s knee and it exhibits its symptoms of pain just below the kneecap.
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis — Tendinitis in the rotator cuff displays its symptoms of pain in the shoulders. Rotator cuff tendinitis is a common complaint of professional as well as non-professional swimmers and baseball pitchers.
- Tennis Elbow — This is a common name for tendinitis near and around the elbow and the pain is felt near the elbow and on the outer side of the forearm.
- Golfer’s Elbow — This type of tendinitis is similar to tennis elbow but the pain appears on the inner part of the forearm.
Causes and Risk of Tendinitis
The sheaths which surround tendons have a tendency to wear and tear through the normal aging process but also through injuries such as direct blows; overuse incurred during repetitive motions of sports, play or work which is the most common cause; and a variety of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and many others.
Plenty of rest, ice packs and over-the-counter pain relieving medications are usually enough to ease the symptoms of tendinitis and to give it sufficient time to heal on its own. However, when tendinitis becomes chronic it can cause the tendons to rupture and/or it may lead to permanent damage of the tissues. Chronic tendinitis is medically renamed as tendinosis or tendinopathy.
If symptoms of tendinitis fail to subside with home remedies, professional assistance is in order and the following treatments may be prescribed:
Corticosteroid. Corticosteroids may reduce the inflammation while decreasing the pain and they may be administered via injections near and around the affected site. Corticosteroids may also be administered via topical solutions applied directly to the affected area and driven through the skin by a procedure involving electric currents called iontophoresis.
Physical Therapy. Very specific set of exercises and massage are prescribed to strengthen the muscles around the affected tendons and to promote increased blood flow.
Autologous Blood Injection. This is a relatively new procedure which involves injecting the patient’s own blood into the affected area and thus promotes faster healing without drugs. The documented success rate of this procedure is approximately 70-80% of tendinitis cases.
Surgery. In cases where tendinitis is not relieved by any other methods, surgery may be prescribed. However, candidacy for surgery depends of the severity and location of the tendinitis as well as on the age of the patient.