Recurring pain, stiffness, and inflammation are typical symptoms of tendinitis. This is a somewhat common condition where inflammation and irritation in a tendon affect the range of motion and basic function of a joint.
What Is A Tendon?
A tendon is a thick fibrous cord that attaches a specific muscle to a bone. It differs from a ligament that connects a specific bone to another bone. Tendinitis, which is also referred to as Tendonitis, tends to cause tenderness and pain just outside of the affected joint. Since there are so many tendons in the human body, tendinitis can affect a wide range of joints throughout the body. This includes major compound joints like the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees as well as smaller structures like the heel or even the fingers.
What Are Some Of The More Common Types Of Tendinitis?
Tennis Or Golfer’s Elbow
Technically known as “Lateral Epicondylitis” is inflammation or potential micro-tears in the tendon that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow. It is more commonly associated with repetitive motions. Significant lateral epicondylitis can start to limit the range of motion and might require immobilization or the use of anti-inflammatory medications.
This is a form of rotator cuff tendinitis that often starts out with a feeling of the joint “Catching” during an overhand throwing motion. Here again, we have a repetitive motion issue that causes inflammation and possible micro-tears in the connective tissues. It can be complicated by inflammation complications in the surrounding shoulder muscles.
Here again we have a repetitive motion issue. Though swimmer’s shoulder tends to affect multiple components. It often starts with tendons related to the bicipital tendon as well as connective tissues surrounding the scapula or “Shoulder Blade.” Symptoms tend to worsen over time and are most noticeable in overhand swimming strokes.
Also known as “Patellar Tendinitis” it is often characterized by inflammation in one of the knee’s patellar tendons. This is the durable, thick tendon that connects your kneecap to the tibia shin bone in the lower leg. As it progresses, the jumper’s knee starts to weaken the structural integrity of the patellar tendon. Left untreated patellar tendinitis can cause a potentially severe tear in the tendon itself which can debilitate the knee, requiring reconstructive surgery and a prolonged rehabilitation process.
It’s worth noting that these are just some of the more common forms of tendinitis. In reality, the human body has more than 4,000 tendons. Any one of which can be irritated, inflamed, or injured by physical trauma, mechanical injuries, or repetitive stress.
How Is Tendinitis Treated?
If symptoms are minded early on, most cases of tendinitis can be successfully treated with simple rest, and perhaps taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medications. Some advanced cases of tendinitis require some type of physical therapy either in a clinical setting or simple exercises you can perform in the comfort of your own home. If severe or chronic inflammation is complicating the treatment process a physician might recommend a localized steroidal injection such as a cortisone shot.
Left ignored or untreated a worsening case of tendinitis can lead to a severe rupture of the tendon itself. This can cause complications in the surrounding muscles and other tissues as well as inflammation complications in the affected joint. Most tendon ruptures require some type of reconstructive surgery with a prolonged rehabilitation timeline.
Are There Increased Risk Factors For Tendinitis?
Several known risk factors can increase your risk of developing tendinitis. Some can be minimized by preventive techniques and minor lifestyle changes.
As the human body ages tendons tend to become less flexible. This also goes along with the tightening of certain connective tissues. Older individuals also tend to experience an increasing decrease in muscle mass, which can place increased stress on the tendons and associated connective tissues.
While there’s nothing that can be done to stop the cruel hands of time, there are a few lifestyle habits you can adopt that will help preserve some of your flexibility. This includes incorporating routine stretching sessions in your day. Also the more active you are the less muscle loss you experience with time. Taking up a light-duty hobby like daily walking, yoga or Tai Chi can also help maintain joint flexibility as well as overall health.
Certain occupations place individuals at higher risk for tendinitis. This includes jobs with a lot of repetitive motion or those where you might find yourself in frequently awkward positions. This includes jobs with frequent overhead reaching, machinery that causes a lot of vibration, and repetitive tasks that apply force to tools or materials.
It’s hard to limit your occupational duties. Though thoughtful ergonomics can go a long way toward reducing stress on joints and inflammation in muscles and other tissues. If you notice a particular motion, such as picking up a heavy object or needing to repetitively reach over your head, try to find the most ergonomically efficient way of completing the task.
This might include things like making sure you are always lifting with your legs or using special equipment to help support vulnerable joints. Making sure to stretch before work and taking a few minutes here and there throughout your day to perform some simple stretching exercises might also help reduce the risk of tendinitis associated with repetitive motions.
Athletics & Contact Sports
Many sports involve repetitive motion and put you at risk for tendinitis as a side effect of a more acute injury. This includes baseball, basketball, bowling, golf, running, swimming, and tennis. The more practice time you put into these sports, the higher you are at risk of suffering tendinitis in one or more of the joints.
If you participate in a sport with a history of tendinitis in one or more joints, you might be able to adapt some of your habits. This might include simple things like thoroughly stretching before every practice, game, or match. If you notice early signs of discomfort coming from a common or repetitive motion, you might want to talk to a coach or a physical trainer about things you can do to minimize the issue. This might include things like improving your tackling technique, adjusting your footwork, or adapting your training regimen.