TendonitisEn Español (Spanish Version)
Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon. A tendon is a strong fibrous piece of tissue that connects muscle to bone. There is a tendon at the end of each muscle connecting it to a bone. Tendons have a very thin, smooth sheath covering them called the peritendon. When the peritendon is inflamed, it is called peritendonitis.
Most cases of tendonitis involves mild inflammation of the tendon. When the inflammation is severe, there may be deterioration of the fibers within the tendon. This causes pain and makes it difficult to play sports or be active. Severe, long-term tendinitis may weaken or even rupture the tendon.
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Tendonitis is caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. There is repeated strain on the tendon with overuse. Eventually, the tendon cannot withstand the strain and it begins to get very tiny tears.
Overuse can be the result of doing any activity too much, such as:
- Playing a sport
- Physical labor
Tendonitis can develop in almost any tendon of the body. However, the following tendons are more commonly involved than the others:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
- Muscle imbalance
- Decreased flexibility
- Advancing age
- Sex: female
- Alignment abnormalities of the leg
- Pain, particularly with activity
- Local swelling
- Decreased motion of adjacent joints
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. In particular, the doctor will as about your physical activity and the location of the pain.
Tests may include:
Treatment depends on:
- Severity of symptoms
- The tendon involved
- Length of time symptoms have lasted
Treatment may include:
- Rest for the affected tendon
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Ice after activity
- Warming the affected area before activity
- Cast or splint for immobilization of the affected area
- Cortisone injection into the sheath of the tendon
- Counterforce brace over the painful tendon
- Shoe orthotics for foot alignment problems
- Gentle stretching of the tendon
- Strengthening of the involved muscle
To prevent tendonitis:
- Gradually work yourself into shape for a new activity.
- When increasing the length of time and intensity of activities, do so gradually.
- If you have a tendon that has been a problem, gradually stretch out that tendon.
- Strengthen the muscle attached to the tendon.
- If you have pain, do not ignore it. Early treatment can prevent the problem from becoming serious.
- Learn to back off from activities if you are tired or not used to the activity.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.sportsmed.org .
Human Tendons . Human Kinetics; 1997.
Last reviewed October 2007 by Robert E. Leach, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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