- Rest and Protect The Area
Tendinitis treatment must begin by avoiding aggravating movements. This may mean taking a break from a favorite activity for a period of time, but this is a necessary step to allow the inflamed tendon to heal. It is also recommended in tendinitis treatment to try alternative activities; for example, if you are a runner who is experiencing knee pain due to tendinitis, try incorporating swimming into your workout schedule. Often a splint or brace will be prescribed to help protect the area.
- Apply an Ice Pack
Icing the area of inflammation is an important aspect of tendinitis treatment. The ice will help to control the inflammation and decrease swelling. By minimizing inflammation and swelling, the tendon can return to its usual state and perform its usual function.
- Take Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) include a long list of possibilities such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naprosyn, Celebrex, and many others.
Tendinitis treatment can be improved by these medications that will decrease pain and swelling. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting these medications.
- Cortisone Injections
If the symptoms of tendinitis are persistent, an injection of cortisone may be considered. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication, but instead of being given by mouth, it is injected directly to the site of inflammation. This can be extremely helpful for situations that are not improved with rest.
Not all types of tendinitis can be addressed with cortisone injections! For example, Achilles tendinitis is rarely injected with cortisone because of concerns about possible rupture of the tendon.
To prevent the return of tendinitis symptoms:
- Strengthening and Physical Therapy
Proper strengthening technique can help you avoid tendinitis by using your muscles in a safe, more efficient manner. For example, patients with rotator cuff tendinitis can learn ways to move the shoulder that will not cause inflammation. Do not begin exercises until the inflammation of tendinitis has resolved!
- Take Breaks
Alternate repetitive tasks with breaks to relieve stress on the tendons. Don't perform one activity continuously for hours at a time. For those with exercise-related tendinitis, try to vary your workouts to relieve the repetitive stress of one exercise activity.
- Protect the Tendons
Some patients who have chronic tendinitis will find relief by protecting the affected area when performing certain activities. For example, wrist splints can be worn while gardening, or Chopat straps (patellar tendinitis) can be worn while playing sports.
The steps listed above are usually adequate tendinitis treatment, and most patients have resolution of their symptoms. Learning to avoid activities that may cause a tendinitis flare-up can also be important.
Tendinitis due to underlying conditions such as arthritis and gout are more difficult to treat and recur more frequently. The best management in these situations is to do your best to avoid flare-ups of gouty attacks or arthritic episodes, and to avoid activities which you have learned cause tendinitis.
- Almekinders, LC. "Tendinitis and other chronic tendinopathies" J. Am. Acad. Ortho. Surg., May 1998; 6: 157 - 164.