Tendons (thick fibrous cords) are connective tissues at the end of the muscles which connects the muscles to the bones. An inflammation or an irritation in the tendon is called Tendinitis. It is also called an ‘occupational disease’. Injury to tendons around the upper and lower limb area is very common. The different types of tendinitis are Wrist tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis, posterior tibial tendinitis, Patellar (kneecap) tendinitis, rotator cuff tendinitis and Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis).
Causes & Symptoms
Tendinitis is most common around the shoulders, elbow, wrist and heel. But it may also occur around the knee and the shin. Sudden injury is the main cause for tendinitis but repetitive motion, frequent overhead reaching and forceful exertion of a particular area over a long period of time can also cause tendinitis. Athletes, rock climbers, swimmers and those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes are most prone to tendinitis. It may also be associated with a calcium deposit (calcific tendinitis). A bacterial infection can cause tendinitis. Age plays a major role, as the tendons lose their flexibility or elasticity with advancing age, which makes the tendons more prone to injury.
Typical signs and symptoms occur at the point where the bone attaches itself to the muscle. The area is tender to touch and warm, with redness, swelling and pain. The pain increases with the mobility of that bone and the swelling of the tendon hampers the sliding which causes stiffness.
Diagnosis & Treatment
A physical examination is enough for a doctor to diagnose tendinitis. X-rays may be necessary to rule out any doubt of other conditions that may be causing the symptoms.
Self care remedies are the best form of treatment for tendinitis. Taking rest and applying ice packs are the first steps to relieve the pain and reduce inflammation. Even a pain reliever can be taken. As the swelling subsides, normal movement should be continued as total immobilization could lead to other complications. In case the home remedies does not give any desired results or the pain continues when normal activity is continued then medical help should be taken.
The doctor may recommend anti inflammatory topical creams to reduce inflammation along with pain relievers like aspirin. In some cases steroid injections like corticosteroid may be injected into the tendon to ease the pain and reduce inflammation. However it should be noted that repeated injections could rupture the tendon. In severe cases splint, cast and bandages may be necessary to immobilize the area till the inflammation subsides.
Physical therapy or exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles are very essential. This not only improves the symptoms but also accelerates the healing process. Only in case of severe tendon injury or rupture, a surgical repair may be needed.