What is Tendonitis?
Tendonitisis one of the most common problems that is seen in an orthopedic office. A tendon is the portion of the muscle that attaches to the bone. We have tendons throughout our entire body. If the tendon becomes irritated and inflamed it is called tendonitis. The most common joints that we see in practice withtendonitis is the shoulder, elbow and knee. Most of the time it comes from overuse such as working in the yard on the weekend or hammering on a project at home. The muscle may not be adapted to this increased intensity and the tendon responds by becoming painful and inflamed.
Description of Tendonitis
As stated tendons can become inflamed from overuse, but it can also occur along with other joint problems such as arthritis. In these cases due to wear and tear of the joint it does not move freely and the tendon has extra work to do. Early in the course the tendon will become swollen and red. At this stage there is usually pain in the joint and with movement. If there is progression of the inflammation it can sometimes lead to a tear of the tendon. Patients may notice immediate swelling over the area of the tear. In the arm when the tendon tears patients will have a bulge that we call the "Popeye" sign.
Most cases of tendonitis respond to conservative treatments: rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and steroid injections.The length of symptoms plays a role in how long it will take to recover. If we see a patient quickly after a recent overuse then we can usually get the patient relief much more quickly. However, it is much more common to see patients with months of history of complaints. In those patients who have torn their tendon, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendon.