Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon. Tendons attach muscles to bones. Common symptoms of tendonitis include pain, swelling, redness and stiffness of the tendon with use or stretch. The hallmark characteristic of chronic tendonitis is stiffness and pain in the morning or when the muscle is first being used after a period of rest, loosening up and lessening of pain once warm and then increased pain and stiffness after another period of rest.
Tendonitis usually results from incorrect body mechanics or overuse of a particular muscle. Untreated tendonitis can go away on its own if the activity that caused it is discontinued. In some cases, however, the patient is unable to identify the cause or is unable to discontinue the activity. A period of rehabilitation to reduce inflammation and strengthen the muscles around the tendon will help prevent future injury.
Tennis elbow is a common tendonitis. This is where the tendons that attach the wrist extensor muscles that bend the wrist up with palm down become inflamed due to overuse. The classic cause is incorrect technique (relying more on wrist motion not shoulder) while playing tennis. However, this can also occur with other causes from office work too.
Achilles tendonitis usually occurs with improper footwear, a sudden increase in activity or leg muscle imbalance, causing the Achilles tendon to take more force than it is accustomed to causing injury and inflammation. For example, someone who suddenly decides to train for a marathon and goes from jogging an average of 2 miles a day to jogging 5 miles might develop this type of tendonitis (or others!). Or a person who is currently jogging 5 miles a day and decides to change their footwear all of a sudden can also develop a tendonitis.
Tendonitis can occur in any tendon and usually, a detailed history of the patient’s recent habits (or change in habits) can shed light as to the cause. Chiropractors, Physical Rehabilitation Therapists and Occupational Therapists are very good at giving suggestions for alternative movement patterns or ways to avoid the aggravating factors.