Whether you play round-robin tennis on the weekends or participate in national swim meets, you probably know someone who has been diagnosed with tendonitis. It’s a common and fairly painful condition among athletes that can slow you down or leave you on the sidelines. Tendons are strong, fiber-like bands of connective tissue that join our muscles to bone. When these tendons become swollen or inflamed, it is called tendonitis.
Tendonitis is usually caused by a repetitive overuse or stressing of tendons in areas such as the knee, wrist, or ankle. The most common causes of tendonitis are named after the sports that usually induce stress or injury to specific tendons. They include golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, pitcher’s shoulder, and swimmer’s shoulder.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of tendonitis may vary with their location in the body, the type of activity involved, and the severity of the inflammation. Symptoms tend to occur at the point where the tendon attaches to a bone. Frequent signs of tendonitis include:
- Pain and tenderness along the tendon, usually near a joint. Many people with tendonitis describe the pain as a dull ache that worsens with movement or activity.
- Swelling that is caused by excess fluid and inflammation in and around the tendon/bone area.
- The skin over the tendon may feel warm and the skin around the area may be red.
- Tenderness along the tendon or its sheath covering
- A grating feeling when moving the joint
- Pain and discomfort at night
- Stiffness in the morning
When to see a doctor
Most cases of tendonitis respond to self-care measures and can be treated with rest, physical therapy, and medications that reduce pain and swelling. But if your symptoms get worse or if you develop additional symptoms you should call your doctor sooner rather than later.
Some warning signs that you probably need medical treatment include:
- Continuous redness or swelling around the joint accompanied by fever or chills. These may be signs of an infection.
- A rapid increase in pain, or sudden inability to move a joint.
- No relief after a few days of home self-care.
Your doctor may order X-rays or other imaging tests. Imaging tests are usually done to rule out other conditions that could be causing your signs and symptoms. The doctor may also order a blood test and take a sample of any liquid accumulated in the joint area in order to study it for infectious agents.
You may need physical therapy to avoid re-injuring your shoulder, knee, or elbow once you head back out onto the court. A physical therapy program may involve strengthening exercises as well as tips for altering your technique to protect your health, without giving up your competitive edge.
Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches specializes in providing orthopedic care to those with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions or injuries. If you have questions about custom, personalized implants for your hip replacement, and whether they may be right for you, or if you would simply like to learn more about our orthopedic services, please call our office at (561) 733-5888, Ext. 9. To schedule an appointment, or use our secure online appointment request form.