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Tendonitis: What is it and why does it hurt?

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By Alyssa Burke, PTA

Tendonitis is a common problem you may have heard of or even experienced before. It occurs when the tendons that attach your muscles to your bones become inflamed. Tendonitis can happen to any tendon in your body but is most commonly seen in the following areas:

  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Knees
  • Ankles

Tendonitis can affect all ages and fitness levels.

There are many reasons why tendonitis occurs. Often, tendonitis is seen in individuals that perform repetitive movements throughout the day. Think about typing or reaching overhead for example. Performing the same movement over and over again can cause stress on the tendons and lead to tendonitis. If you have to repetitively extend your wrist during the day to type on a keyboard and use a mouse, it could irritate the tendons in your wrist and cause you to develop tendonitis in your wrist.

Tendonitis is also a common condition we treat in older individuals. As we age, our tendons lose their elasticity. This causes them to become less flexible and more prone to stress with overuse.

Symptoms of Tendonitis:

If you do develop tendonitis, it is common to have pain or feel a dull ache where your tendons are located. You could also experience swelling or tenderness in that area. You may also notice that you have a loss of motion in that body part and feel like it is not as strong as it used to be. These symptoms can impact the activities you perform everyday making sitting, standing or even walking troublesome depending on where the tendonitis is occurring.

Many people who have tendonitis often ignore the symptoms believing that they’ll go away on its own. If tendonitis is left untreated, it could become worse and become tendinosis. Tendinosis is when degenerative changes occur in the tendon and the tendonitis can become chronic. In some cases, tendonitis can get progressively worse and the tendon can even rupture or tear. Depending on the severity of the tear or rupture, surgery may be the solution. But before you even explore the surgery option, physical therapy is a great conservative treatment option for tendonitis in any body part. At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our clinicians will develop a personalized plan of care to address your specific symptoms and help you achieve your individual goals. What are the activities or movements that are currently painful or impossible to do because of your pain? Your plan of care will help you get back to those activities. Through targeted stretching and strengthening, physical therapy will not only reduce swelling and increase strength, but also help prevent future problems. We will assess your movement mechanics and help you improve those to ensure that any repetitive movements are performed correctly. Remember, repetitive movements can cause tendonitis.

Physical therapy will help you accomplish your goals and help you return to playing sports, working or whatever hobbies you enjoy doing. For more information on how to recognize different types of pain and swelling, CLICK HERE for a short video. 

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