Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon, which is a strong, thick cord of collagen tissue that connects muscle to bone. When the muscle contracts, the tendon transfers the force of that contraction to the bone to enable movement. Inflammation causes tendons to become sore, tender, and stiff, especially when you move.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tendonitis causes more than 70,000 people to miss work each year. Tendonitis is most common in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and heels. The risk of developing tendonitis increases as you age and tendons gradually lose strength and flexibility. The good news is, data from American Family Physician says four out of five people with overuse tendonitis fully recover in three to six months, usually without medication or surgery.
Tendonitis can occur in any of the approximately 4,000 tendons in the human body, although the tendons that absorb the most force are at the greatest risk. Some of the most common types of tendonitis include:
Like many inflammatory conditions involving the soft tissue, tendonitis is most commonly caused by overuse. Athletes who perform the same movements repeatedly, such as baseball pitchers, golfers, swimmers, tennis players, and runners, often develop tendonitis from repetitive, unnatural movements.
Of course, you don’t have to be an athlete to experience tendonitis. If you have a job that requires you to repeatedly lift your arms over your head, or you exert force on your joints over and over, there’s an increased risk of tendonitis. Awkward twisting, overhead painting, and different types of yardwork are often tied to tendonitis.
There are a number of other factors that contribute to tendonitis. For example, Achilles tendonitis is a common sports injury but can also be caused by poorly fitting shoes. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are more susceptible to Achilles tendonitis. Thyroid disorders and certain kinds of antibiotics have also been linked to tendonitis. Starting an intense exercise program when your body isn’t in the proper condition increases the risk of injury and a number of conditions, including tendonitis.
While warning signs of tendonitis from overuse and repetitive movement are sometimes easy to spot, trauma, injuries, and accidents are impossible to predict. Auto accidents, falls, collisions, sudden twists, and forceful movements often cause inflammation. Deficiencies of nutrients and oxygen in the blood in certain areas of tendon tissue can also contribute to tendonitis.
We can help you diagnose and pinpoint the root cause of tendonitis through a comprehensive exam that includes observations of joint movement and an in-depth conversation about your history and activity. What hurts? When does it hurt? How bad is the pain? When did you start feeling the pain? What kind of work and activities do you do? These questions help us connect the dots between symptoms and the root cause of your pain and determine if diagnostic imaging is needed to confirm our initial diagnosis.
Your personalized treatment plan depends on the location, cause, and severity of the tendonitis, any related health issues or injuries, and your physical condition. For minor cases, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) are enough to correct the problem. Physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and a number of chiropractic techniques can help you recover from tendonitis and regain strength and flexibility, while nutritional protocols may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Tendonitis in the feet and ankles can also be treated with podiatry.
At Natural Healthcare Center, our preferred approach is conservative treatment. Prescription medication is used temporarily and sparingly, if at all, and surgery is an absolute last resort.
While accidents and trauma are unpredictable, the goal is always to prevent tendonitis, especially from overuse. Stay hydrated, fill your diet with whole foods, and avoid inflammatory foods such as sugar, artificial sweeteners, soda, and processed foods. Take frequent breaks from repetitive motions and activities, and warm up and cool down instead of starting and stopping abruptly.
Also, ask us how to perform repetitive tasks in a way that reduces strain on your joints.
Don’t accept pain, stiffness, and/or tenderness in any of your joints as normal. Schedule a complimentary consultation at Natural Healthcare Center. We’ll discuss your history, review your diagnostic imaging, and share our insights at no charge. Let us help you determine if tendonitis is the problem, identify the root cause, and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you feel better, function better and live longer.