We've all heard of it but, what is tendinitis? Tendinitis is a common condition that affects about 1-3% of the population. Pain, stiffness, and burning are characteristic tendinitis symptoms, and it can affect many different parts of the body.
It can be hard to understand the answer to our question, what is tendinitis, because there are several types of tendonitis, but they all have similar symptoms and causes. Conventional treatments can vary and may include surgery, but there are also natural treatment options with minimal side effects. In this blog we will discover the many different types of tendinitis, tendinitis symptoms, and how to treat tendinitis naturally.
Types of Tendinitis
There are several different types of tendinitis, and they affect different parts of the body.
Many runners develop Achilles tendinitis (also referred to as achilles tendonitis)
Like most forms of tendinitis, this one develops because of overuse. It occurs when the tendon connecting the calf muscle and heel bone becomes damaged.
Achilles tendinitis usually causes heel pain, and this pain often gets worse when running or walking. In severe cases, the tendon actually tears.
Regular exercise and stretching properly before physical activity can help prevent Achilles tendinitis.
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow is a form of tendinitis that affects the outer elbow – where the forearm muscles attach to your elbow bones.
Raquet sports, like tennis, can cause this condition. But only a small percentage of people who are diagnosed with tennis elbow actually play tennis.
People who develop this condition often experience muscle weakness, aching, tenderness, stiffness, and burning pain. The pain may get progressively worse over time, especially when pressure is applied to the outer area of the elbow.
Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
Although similar to tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow affects a different area of the elbow. It occurs when the tendons along the inner elbow become damaged due to overuse or trauma.
Those who develop golfer’s elbow usually experience pain and tenderness that radiates down the forearm and along the inner elbow. The symptoms may get worse when grasping objects or bending your palm up towards your wrist.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis affects the thumb side of your wrist. The condition causes intense pain in this area, especially when making a fist or grasping things.
Doctors still don’t know what causes this condition, but activities with repetitive hand and wrist movements like playing sports, working in the garden or even lifting a baby may increase the risk of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
The most common symptoms of this condition are:
- Pain and swelling along the base of the thumb.
- Difficulty moving your thumb and wrist.
It may also feel like your thumb is stuck when you try to move it.
Without treatment, De Quervain’s may start to spread and affect your forearm or thumb (or both).
Trigger Finger or Thumb
With this condition, the finger or thumb makes a clicking noise when you straighten it, and it may get stuck in a bent position. This condition occurs because the tendon along the palm of your hand becomes inflamed and thickened. This prevents the tendon from moving smoothly. Some people develop nodules along the tendon.
Many athletes and active people develop patellar tendinitis. The patellar tendon is what connects your shinbone to your lower leg.
Sports that involve running and jumping can put excess strain on the knee, leading to patellar tendinitis.
The most common symptoms include pain, burning, swelling, and tenderness at the kneecap. Repeated stress on the tendon can cause micro-tears, which can damage or weaken the tendon.
Biceps Tendinitis (Rotator Cuff Tendinitis)
Biceps tendinitis causes pain, irritation, and inflammation in the upper biceps tendon, which connects the bicep muscle to the shoulder bone.
When the condition first develops, the biceps tendon becomes inflamed, but as it progresses, the tendon can thicken and even enlarge. Eventually, inflammation takes its toll, and there may be some tearing. In severe cases, the tearing can cause deformity, or bulging along the upper arm.
The most common symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis are pain and weakness in the front of the shoulder.
Usually, this form of tendinitis develops along with other shoulder issues, such as:
- Tears in the glenoid labrum
Anyone can develop biceps tendinitis, but your risk is higher if you perform activities that involve repetitive movement.
Many routine activities can cause this condition, including sports activities and household chores.
Although tendonitis can affect different parts of the body, the symptoms are very similar in most cases:
- Pain that gets worse with movement
- Swelling and redness
You may feel the tendon moving along the bone, or you may even develop a nodule (or lump) on the affected tendon.
In severe cases, the tendon may rupture, creating a gap that can limit your movement.
Tendinitis, in most cases, is a temporary injury. But it can cause severe pain that can make it difficult to perform everyday activities. Symptoms may stick around for several months.
What Causes Tendinitis?
Many things can cause tendinitis, but the most common culprits are sports and jobs or hobbies that require repetitive movements. Overuse of your tendons can lead to pain, swelling, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Risk factors for tendinitis include:
Many sports and physical activities can cause tendinitis, including:
Some everyday physical activities can also cause tendinitis, including:
Some jobs require repetitive movements, and this puts you at a greater risk of developing tendonitis.
Your job may increase your risk of tendinitis if it requires:
- Awkward movements
- Repetitive motions
- Overhead reaching
- Forceful exertion
Occupations that are more likely to cause tendonitis include:
- Car mechanics
- Maintenance work
- Computer-related jobs
- Jobs that require frequent reaching
Poor posture, which is common with desk jobs, can increase the risk of tendinitis.
Eventually, aging causes wear and tear on our tendons. Over time, aging can naturally cause stiffness, pain, damage to the tendons, and increase your risk of injury.
Adults who are over the age of 40 are at an increased risk of developing tendinitis.
Certain Health Conditions
Some health conditions can make you more susceptible to tendinitis, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Kidney disease
- Blood disease
Although rare, some medications can increase the risk of developing tendinitis or even cause tendons to tear. These drugs include:
- Cipro or Noroxin
Medication-related tendinitis is rare, but it can happen.
If you suspect that you have tendinitis, diagnosis is the first step to getting treatment. The process starts with a physical examination.
Your doctor will start by trying to move the tendon in the affected area. It may make a creaking or clicking noise during movement. If the tendon makes a noise, this is a sign that the tendon is inflamed and thickened.
Tenderness can also be a sign of tendinitis.
Initially, your doctor may recommend rest, icing the painful area, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. If the pain doesn’t improve, additional tests may be required.
In some cases, doctors may order imaging tests or X-rays. Calcium deposits will show up on an X-ray, which can help confirm the diagnosis. An MRI or an ultrasound may be used to look for swelling around the tendon.
Conventional Treatment For Tendinitis
When treating tendinitis, the goal is to reduce pain and inflammation. There are several ways to achieve this through conventional treatments and natural supplements or products. The most common conventional treatments recommended for tendinitis include:
Rest is crucial in the treatment of tendinitis because it gives your body a chance to heal. If sports, exercise, or work activities caused the injury, you will need to take a break for a few weeks or reduce the intensity of the activity.
If you don’t give your body the rest it needs, this can lead to complications down the road.
Wearing A Brace
A brace, splint, or bandage can help limit your movement, giving your tendon the rest it needs and the chance to heal.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Like with most injuries, alternating between hot and cold therapy can help alleviate pain while reducing inflammation.
- When using an ice pack, make sure that it’s wrapped in a towel, and only apply it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time. Ice can help reduce swelling, and it’s typically the best option for injuries that occurred within the last 48 hours.
- After the first 48 hours, heat is generally more effective for injuries. Heat improves circulation to the injured area and may also help reduce pain.
OTC Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are often recommended by doctors. While effective for some people, OTC pain relievers may not work for everyone.
Surgery (In Severe Cases)
If tendinitis is left untreated, the tendon may eventually weaken to the point where it ruptures. A ruptured tendon requires surgery.
Natural Tendinitis Remedies
Natural supplements and remedies can further help with the pain and inflammation while you’re resting and giving your body the care it needs.
For temporary relief, pain-relieving creams can be very effective. These creams contain ingredients that relieve pain and are backed by research and studies, such as:
These ingredients work together to help bring pain relief to the affected tendon.
Many people with tendinitis find relief with chiropractic treatment. A chiropractor can assess your form and posture and provide some tips on how to perform activities safely. Proper posture and form during activities are both vital in preventing tendinitis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Known for their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids can help bring down inflammation while aiding in pain relief. Omega-3s can be found in fatty fish, or you can take a fish oil supplement.
These are just some of the natural treatments that you can turn to for relief from tendinitis. Fortunately, with a little time and care, most people will overcome tendinitis and enjoy a normal life.