Tendons are the thick, fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Tendonitis is the irritation and inflammation of these tendons, which can lead to increased pain and weakness with movement. The recovery process of tendinitis can often be slower than in other injuries because tendons, by comparison to muscles, do not receive a rich supply of blood. Tendonitis is an overuse injury and is caused by repetitive motions. Symptoms include pain and stiffness around the joint, as well as heat and redness of the affected area. Pain can worsen during and after the activity that initially aggravated the tendon, and is usually followed by stiffness the next morning. Once a tendon is injured it can remain weak and at risk of re-injury if left untreated.
If a tendonitis injury is suspected, it is important to cease or alter the activity that lead to injury (as well as any activities that cause increased pain) so that the inflammation can subside and the tendon can heal. Physical therapy, in combination with anti-inflammatory medications and proper rest, will help to manage this condition.
A physical therapy protocol may initially include ice and ultrasound to reduce inflammation. Your physical therapist will then work with you to retrain the specific muscles surrounding the joint to ensure proper mechanics, prevent re-injury of the tendon, and allow for a complete and pain-free return to activities.