Tendinitis (or tendonitis) is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon. Tendons are pieces of connective tissue between muscles and bones. Tendinitis can be either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) in nature.

Causes of tendinitis

  • Tendinitis most often is caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden, more serious injury.

  • An abnormal or poorly placed bone or joint (such as length differences in your legs or arthritis in a joint) that stresses soft-tissue structures.

  • Stresses from other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders, or unusual medication reactions.

  • Overuse or doing too much too soon when the tendons aren’t used to making a movement or doing the task taken on. Tendinitis is common in “weekend warriors,” people that play and exercise hard only on weekends.

  • Occasionally an infection can cause tendinitis, especially infection from a cat or dog bite to the hand or a finger.

Symptoms of tendinitis

  • One of the main symptoms of tendinitis is pain at the site of the tendon and surrounding area.

  • Pain may be a gradual buildup or sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present.

  • Pain at the site of the tendon and surrounding area.

  • Pain may gradually build up or be sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present.

  • Loss of motion in the shoulder, called adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder.


  • Tendinitis, also called overuse tendinopathy, typically is diagnosed by a physical exam alone.

  • If you have the symptoms of overuse tendinopathy, your doctor may order an ultrasound or MRI scans to help determine tendon thickening, dislocations and tears, but these are usually unnecessary for newly diagnosed cases.

  • Your doctor can also assess whether you have similar problems such as bursitis (inflammation of the fluid cushion surrounding the joints).


  • Avoid staying in the same position. Take breaks every 30 minutes.

  • Learn proper posture positions for all activities.

  • Position your body directly in front of the object you want to pick up. Reach for the object by stretching your arm and hand directly forward toward the object. Never grab objects with your arm in a sideways position. If reaching for an object overhead, center your body and reach up and grab the item with both hands.

  • Use a firm, but not a tightly squeezed, grip when working with or picking up objects.

  • Don’t use one hand to carry heavy objects. Don’t hold the heavy object in one hand at the side of your body.

  • Avoid sitting with your leg folded under.

  • Stop any activity if you feel pain.


First-line treatment includes:

  • Avoiding activities that aggravate the problem.

  • Resting the injured area.

  • Icing the area the day of the injury.

  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.

If the condition does not improve in about three weeks, see your doctor. You may need more advanced treatments, including:

  • Corticosteroid injections: Corticosteroids (often called “steroids”) are often used because they work quickly to decrease the inflammation and pain.

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy includes range of motion exercises and splinting (thumb, forearm, hands).

  • Surgery: This is rarely needed and only for severe problems that do not respond to other treatments.

diseases treatments health disorders tendinitis muscular-system prevention

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