About Us


Arthritis Answers

Health News
64 condition specific health  news pages





tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, a tough rope-like tissue that connects muscle to bone.


tendonitis usually occurs in individuals in middle or old age because it is often the result of overuse over a long period of time. tendonitis does occur in younger patients as a result of acute overuse.

Tendons that commonly become inflamed include:

  • Tendons of the hand
  • Tendons of the upper arm that effect the shoulder
  • Achilles tendon and the tendon that runs across the top of the foot.

Causes & symptoms

Sudden stretching or repeated overuse injures the connection between the tendon and its bone or muscle. The injury is largely mechanical, but when it appears, the body tries to heal it by initiating inflammation. Inflammation increases the blood supply, bringing nutrients to the damaged tissues along with immunogenic agents to combat infection. The result is swelling, tenderness, pain, heat, and redness if it is close to the skin.


Some tendon injuries are superficial and easy to identify. These include "tennis elbow" (extensor tendonitis) over the outside of the elbow, and Achilles' tendonitis just above the heel of the foot. There are several tendons in the shoulder that can be overused or stretched, and usually a shoulder will have more than one injury at a time. Tendonitis in the biceps, the infraspinatus, or the supraspinatus tendon may accompany a tear of the shoulder ligaments or an impingement of one bone or another. Careful pressure testing and movement of the parts is all that is necessary to identify the tendonitis.


Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) will treat the acute condition. The best way to apply ice is in a bag with water. The water applies the cold directly to the skin. Chemical ice packs can get too cold and cause frostbite. Compression using an elastic wrap minimizes swelling and bleeding in an acute sprain. Splinting may help rest the limb. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen) will help. Sometimes the inflammation lingers and requires additional treatment. Injections of cortisone-like medicine often relieve chronic tendonitis, but should be reserved for resistant cases since cortisone can occasionally cause problems of its own.

If tendonitis is persistent and unresponsive to nonsurgical treatment, a surgery to remove the afflicted portion of tendon can be performed. Surgery is also conducted to remove calcium buildup that comes with persistent tendonitis.

Alternative treatment

Compression wraps, such as elastic bandages, may be used to help provide mechanical support for the tendon during active movement. These compression wraps can be helpful, but they may also slow the healing process in the tendon if left on for long periods because they decrease blood supply in the area.

Various types of soft tissue manipulation are very effective for treating tendonitis and may be employed by a variety of practitioners, including chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and osteopaths. One of the most common methods of soft tissue treatment for tendonitis is a vigorous friction massage to the damaged tendon. This friction massage will stimulate the healing of tissue in the area. It is also thought to help produce a healthy and strong scar-tissue repair of the damaged tendon fibers. Practitioners of manual therapy are also likely to advocate a regular stretching program to help decrease tension in those muscles that may be pulling excessively on the tendon.

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are quite effective in treating tendonitis. Acupuncture may be used in the immediate vicinity of the tendonitis to help address muscular dysfunction. Acupuncture treatment may also use more distant points along the energy meridians to help address pain and reduce inflammation. Acupuncture may also have significant benefits in creating an optimum environment for healing of the tendon fiber to take place.

Topical liniments and herbal preparations are often used to treat tendonitis. They have anti-inflammatory properties and will help heal the torn tendon fibers. If a condition is chronic, treatment with moxibustion (burning a small amount of mugwort near the skin) may hasten the healing process. Some oral herbal preparations may also be used in order to create the optimal healing environment for the tendon and address any underlying problems. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine may also use a special form of acupressure massage called Tui-Na.

Allopathic treatment

Pain and anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen) will help and are often used to treat tendonitis along with ice, compression wraps, and activity modification, as mentioned earlier. Sometimes the inflammation lingers and requires additional treatment. Injections of anti-inflammatory medication, such as cortisone, often relieve chronic tendonitis, but they should be used with caution. Research has indicated that cortisone may have detrimental effects on the healing of connective tissues and may, in fact, weaken them in the long run. This would make the person susceptible to a greater injury in the future.

If tendonitis is persistent and unresponsive to nonsurgical treatment, the afflicted portion of tendon can be removed through surgery. Surgery is also performed to remove the calcium buildup that comes with persistent tendonitis.

Expected results

Generally, tendonitis will heal if the activity that provokes it is stopped. Various kinds of treatments may accelerate the healing process. Some tendonitis complaints may last for a long time because they are not given adequate healing time before the individual returns to a vigorous level of activity.


If given enough time, tendons will strengthen to meet the demands placed on them. The blood supply to tendons is poor, so tendons grow slowly. Therefore, adequate time is required for good conditioning. Stretching the muscles that are associated with problematic tendon will also help decrease overuse on the tendon.





This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.