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Tendinitis: What are the causes?

Tendinitis, often known as tendonitis, is a condition in which a tendon becomes inflamed. It occurs when a person overuses or injures a tendon, such as during a sporting event. It’s usually associated with an acute injury that’s accompanied by inflammation.

It frequently affects the elbow, wrist, finger, thigh, and other body parts.

The name of the injury may be determined by the bodily component affected, such as Achilles tendinitis. Tennis or golfer’s elbow, jumper’s knee, and pitcher’s shoulder are all common terms.

Tendinitis may affect people of any age, although it is more frequent in adults who participate in a lot of sports. Because tendons lose flexibility and grow weaker with age, older persons are also vulnerable.

Tendinosis has comparable symptoms, but it is a degenerative chronic (long-term) disorder.

Things to understand about tendinitis

  • Tendinitis is a condition that occurs when the tendons are overworked or injured.
  • Achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, and housemaid’s knee are all common names for this condition.
  • Rest, ice and heat therapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers are all options for treatment.
  • It may lead to a rupture, which may need surgery if not treated.


a lady having tendinitis
Tendonitis is a painful inflammation that occurs as a consequence of overuse of a joint.

A tendon is a piece of connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. It is flexible, strong, and fibrous, and it can bear high levels of stress. A ligament connects two bones together at a joint, while a tendon connects two muscles together at a joint.

Tendons and muscles work together to create a pulling force on the tendons and muscles Despite the fact that tendon and ligament tissue is stiff and fibrous, they are referred to as “soft tissue” because they are soft when compared to bone.

Tenosynovitis is a disorder that occurs when the sheath that surrounds the tendon becomes inflamed rather than the actual tendon itself. Tendinitis and tenosynovitis are two conditions that may occur concurrently.


Tendinitis manifests itself in a variety of ways and affects various regions of the body.

Achilles tendinitis

A tendon that runs between the heel and the calf muscle is known as the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendinitis is a frequent sports condition that affects the lower leg. It may also be caused by shoes that are either too small or too large for the foot. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to develop this condition.

Supraspinatus tendinitis

Supraspinatus tendinitis is a condition in which the tendon around the top of the shoulder joint becomes inflamed, resulting in discomfort when the arm is moved, particularly upwards.

When lying down on the afflicted shoulder at night, some patients may experience severe discomfort. It is possible that the patient has rotator cuff syndrome if other tendons in the same location are afflicted as well.

Tennis or golfer’s elbow

Pain on the outside of the elbow, also known as tennis elbow, is a frequent symptom of lateral epicondylitis, often known as tennis elbow. It is possible that it will radiate down to the wrist.

Medial epidondylitis, often known as golfer’s elbow, is a kind of elbow discomfort that occurs on the inside side of the elbow and is more frequent among golfers. When attempting to raise against a force, the pain is more extreme. Pain may occasionally be felt all the way down to the wrist.

De Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis

Inflammation develops in the sheath that surrounds the thumb tendons, which is located between the thumb and the wrist. It becomes unpleasant to move the thumb because of the thicker sheath and edema in the affected region.

Trigger finger or thumb

When the finger or thumb is straightened out, a clicking sound is heard. It gets stuck in a bent posture as a result of thickening and inflammation of the tendon sheath in the palm of the hand, which prevents the tendon from moving easily. Occasionally, a nodule may develop along the tendon.

Tendinitis of the wrist

Badminton players and production line employees who utilize the same action with their wrist on a regular basis are at risk of developing this condition. Wrist tendinopathy is another form of injury that affects the tendons of the wrist. This is a degenerative disorder as opposed to an inflammatory one.


Symptoms manifest itself at the area where the tendon joins to a bone.

They are often comprised of the following:

  • pain which worsens on movement
  • a feeling that the tendon is crackling or grating as it moves
  • swelling, heat, and redness
  • a lump may develop along the tendon

It is possible to feel a gap in the line of the tendon if there is a rupture, and movement will be difficult.

Symptoms may persist anywhere from a few days to many weeks or even months at a time.

Causes and risk factors

The following are examples of common causes:

  • sudden injury
  • repetition of a movement over time

Tendinitis is more common in those whose occupations or hobbies need them to do repeated movements, since this aggravates the tendons in their bodies.

Other considerations to consider are as follows:

Age: When you become older, your tendon flexibility decreases, making you more prone to injury.

Profession: People who work in repeated motions, uncomfortable postures, regularly reaching upwards, vibrating, or exerting themselves forcefully are at greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. It may be triggered by the painting of a ceiling.

Sports: Running, tennis, swimming, basketball, golf, bowling, and baseball are all examples of sports that may cause tendinitis because to the repeated motions required by the sport.

Some health conditions: Tendinitis is more common in those with diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, among other conditions.

It is important for the individual to seek medical treatment if the pain suddenly worsens or if it becomes hard to move a joint.


A physician will inquire about symptoms and carry out a physical examination. When the doctor tries to move the tendon, a creaking sound may be heard. This occurs because the tendon sheath has gotten thicker and irritated.

If there is soreness at one particular spot in the tendon, this might suggest tendinitis.

If the condition does not go away with rest, ice, and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, the doctor may order certain testing.

An x-ray may show up calcium deposits surrounding the tendon, which may assist confirm a diagnosis.

Other imaging studies, such as ultrasound or MRI, may indicate swelling of the tendon sheath.


Treatment seeks to ease pain and minimize inflammation.

In many circumstances, the following will be enough:

  • putting the joint to rest
  • hot and cold treatment
  • pain relievers such as ibuprofen, available over-the-counter (OTC) or online.
  • splinting of the affected joint


Resting will help the irritation to subside more quickly. If a person develops tendinitis as a result of participating in an athletic activity or typing, for example, the person should refrain from participating in that activity or lessen the intensity with which they do it.

Reduced mobility may be achieved with the use of a bandage, splint, or brace. In extreme situations, a plaster cast may be necessary to provide relief.

Not getting enough rest might result in difficulties.

Heat and cold

An ice pack or a warm cloth applied to the afflicted region may help to relieve discomfort and swelling.

applying ice to your joint
Applying ice to an injured area within 48 hours after the injury may help to lessen inflammation.

Ice may be administered for 10 to 15 minutes, once or twice a day, for a total of 10 to 15 minutes.

It is critical to avoid applying ice straight to the skin. Wrap it in a towel or use an ice-pack gadget that has been expressly created for this purpose.

Taking a warm bath, wrapping yourself in heated towels, or using a topical treatment, such as a lotion or ointment, that warms the affected region may also provide some relief.

When it comes to injuries that have happened within the previous 48 hours, ice is usually the best option. After then, heat may be a more effective treatment choice.

Pain relievers

OTC medications: Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) have been shown to be effective in the treatment of tendon pain.

Corticosteroid injections: Injections of corticosteroids around the tendon may be beneficial in alleviating symptoms. Repeated injections, on the other hand, may weaken the tendon, considerably increasing the likelihood of a rupture.

Physical therapy: Manipulating and massaging the afflicted region may give relief and help the healing process along faster.

Stretching and exercise: The physical therapist may also propose particular activities that are aimed to stretch and strengthen the tendon and muscle that is inflamed.

Shock wave treatment or surgical intervention

The use of extracorporeal shock wave treatment (ESWT) may be beneficial if tendinitis continues to worsen and there are calcium deposits surrounding the tendon. Through the skin, a shock wave is sent, causing the calcium deposits to break apart. Surgical removal of the deposits is also an option.

Without adequate treatment, tendinitis has the potential to progress to a rupture of the tendon. This is a more severe issue that may need surgical intervention.


Tendinitis is less likely to occur if an person follows some of the recommendations in this article.

Exercise: Physical activities that target the muscles around the tendon may be beneficial in preventing tendinitis from reoccurring. In order to do strengthening and stretching exercises properly, it is necessary to obtain expert assistance, such as from a physical therapist.

Stretching and cooling down: When participating in sports activities, it is essential to warm up and stretch correctly before beginning. After completing the workout, cool-down exercises and stretches may be beneficial in preventing tendinitis from forming.

Repetitive movements: Tendinitis may develop or reoccur as a result of any of these factors considerably increasing the risk. Reducing the risk by avoiding repeated motions and taking breaks will assist in lowering it.

It is also advisable to avoid being in one posture for an extended period of time, particularly if it is unpleasant. It is preferable to switch hobbies or take a break and then return to it later.

If a person’s profession requires them to do repeated actions that may raise their risk of tendinitis, they should speak with their employer about preventative techniques.

Inflamed tendons, such as those affected by tendinitis, are more susceptible to rupture or tear, which may be life-threatening. The Achilles tendon is the most typically affected by this condition. A rupture or tear will almost always need surgical intervention.



Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.