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Tendonitis Treatment

What is the treatment of tendonitis?

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Updated July 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Below is some advice for tendonitis treatment and avoiding recurrences of this problem. As with any treatment program, talk with your doctor before you begin tendonitis treatment! In order to aid healing you should:

  • Rest and Protect The Area
    Tendonitis 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 tendonitis treatment to try alternative activities; for example, if you are a runner who is experiencing knee pain due to tendonitis, 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 tendonitis 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.

    Tendonitis 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 tendonitis 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 tendonitis can be addressed with cortisone injections! For example, Achilles tendonitis is rarely injected with cortisone because of concerns about possible rupture of the tendon.

To prevent the return of tendonitis symptoms:

  • Strengthening and Physical Therapy
    Proper strengthening technique can help you avoid tendonitis by using your muscles in a safe, more efficient manner. For example, patients with rotator cuff tendonitis can learn ways to move the shoulder that will not cause inflammation. Do not begin exercises until the inflammation of tendonitis 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 tendonitis, try to vary your workouts to relieve the repetitive stress of one exercise activity.

  • Protect the Tendons
    Some patients who have chronic tendonitis 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 tendonitis) can be worn while playing sports.

The steps listed above are usually adequate tendonitis treatment, and most patients have resolution of their symptoms. Learning to avoid activities that may cause a tendonitis flare-up can also be important.

Tendonitis 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 tendonitis.

Sources:

Almekinders, LC. "Tendinitis and other chronic tendinopathies" J. Am. Acad. Ortho. Surg., May 1998; 6: 157 - 164.

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