What Is Tendinitis? Experts Explain This Painful Condition

What Is Tendinitis? Experts Explain This Painful Condition

What Is Tendinitis?

It’s not always a bad sign if you feel a little sore after working out – sometimes, it’s a sign that you just worked out too much, or that you need to stretch more.

However, if you have persistent pain in a certain area, it could be something called tendonitis, which occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed.

Luckily, there’s good news: If caught early, the treatment for tendinitis can be simple—but the keyword is “early” here; if you ignore the pain and wait too long, you could wind up with something that may require a lot more treatment, like surgery. Here, you’ll find out what you need to know about tendinitis, including how it feels, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

Definition of Tendinitis

Tendinitis is inflammation of tendons in the body, typically the tendons in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and heels. The condition occurs because of overuse. Tendonitis is often caused by repeated movements, so it’s often called a “tennis elbow,” “swimmer’s shoulder,” or “jumper’s knee,” Experts believe that when a certain movement is repeatedly performed, the affected tendon can become swollen. Tendinitis is something that happens when you’re putting too much stress on your tendon.

If you try and push through if you have tendinitis, you might end up tearing your tendon. The tendon is just like a small rope with many strands wrapped around one another. These strands are stuck together with tiny bonds or cross links. If the inflammation continues, these cross links can get micro-tears which in turn puts more stress on the assembly line.

Trying to push through the pain makes you feel worse, so you shouldn’t do that. Over time these tears will coalesce and form larger and larger tears. Therefore, tendinitis should not be taken lightly. Tendinitis happens when the tendon is overloaded by pulling in too much force, meaning it’s too strong; or by pulling at an odd angle. Injury is the result when a tendon is overused repeatedly and not allowed to heal, like when your tendon is strained repeatedly for running. Even the slightest movement can cause a person to develop tendinosis.

There is an awful lot of confusion about the difference between tendinitis and tendinosis, which is the proper term. It’s often thought that injuries commonly called tendinitis are tendinosis. Tennis elbow is usually described as tendinitis of extensor carpi radialis brevis, but the fact that the patients in these studies did not have any signs of inflammation proves that it is something else. The histology of tennis elbow showed that it is tendinosis. By taking a microscopic look at tendinosis, we can see an increase in immature type III collagen fibres, loss of collagen continuity, an increase in ground substance, and a haphazard increase of arteriole development.

These types of cells “do not function as blood vessels” and “they do not increase wound healing.”. When a tendon is stretched out, it will go from a hard, white surface to a soft, brown one. These changes result in a loss of strength in the tendon and increase the bulk of the tendon, which can both lead to and contribute to tendinitis, nerve impingement and other injuries. There’s a belief among people that tendinosis can start with a case of tendinitis, but then it turns into a bad case of tendonitis, requiring a chronic healing process.

The stages of soft-tissue healing have been described as, in short: this stage involves the initial inflammatory response and reconstruction, this stage involves strength, and finally, this stage consists of a strengthening of the tissue in the direction of the forces placed upon it. The idea that the tendinitis precedes the tendinosis is at odds with the fact that, even before the tendon is weakened, the tendon is already twice as strong as the muscle.

Different Names for Tendinitis

Some common names for various tendinitis problems are:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Pitcher’s shoulder
  • Swimmer’s shoulder
  • Jumper’s knee

Many types of tendinitis can often be treated successfully with rest and physical therapy, and with the use of medications to relieve pain. If tendinitis is severe, you may need to have surgery.

Symptoms You Need to Know

When a person gets a strain of tendinitis, the symptoms often happen at the location where the tendon attaches to the bone.

  • Pain often described as a dull ache, especially when moving the affected limb or joint
  • Tenderness
  • Mild swelling

Causes You Need to Know

Although tendinitis can occur after a sudden injury, the condition is more likely to develop from the repetitive stresses of a particular movement over time. Most people who develop tendon problems do so because of their job or hobby. 

Using proper technique is very important when performing repetitive sports movements or job-related activities. Improper technique with a tennis elbow can cause one to suffer from tendinitis, which is sometimes referred to as tennis elbow.

Risk Factors Associated With Tendinitis

People who have tendinitis have a higher risk of developing it when they are more advanced in their lives, or if they work jobs, or if they participate in sports.


As people get older, their tendons become less flexible — which makes them easier to injure.


Tendinitis is more common in people whose jobs involve:

  • Repetitive motions
  • Awkward positions
  • Frequent overhead reaching
  • Vibration
  • Forceful exertion


You may be more likely to develop tendinitis if you play sports that involve certain motions, especially if your technique isn’t ideal.

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Golf
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Tennis

Complications You Might Suffer From

Tendinitis can quicken your risk of tendon rupture if you’re ill-treated, so make sure you get the treatment you need. If you keep having the same symptoms of tendon pain and soreness, it may develop into “tendinosis”, a condition that needs to be treated.

Prevention of Tendinitis

To lower your risk of developing tendinitis, follow these recommendations:

  • Ease up – Avoid activities that are putting a lot of stress on your tendons, and especially for prolonged periods. If you feel pain during a particular exercise, stop and rest.
  • Mix it up – You can rid yourself of a particular kind of pain by moving your body through a different series of motions. If you train your body for impact by running, then you can use your body’s strength to go for a swim, or bike ride.
  • Improve your technique – If you are doing your technique in moving or exercise incorrectly, you could increase your chances of injuring your tendons. It’s a good idea to learn the rules of a new sport when starting, or to get instruction on how to use equipment beforehand.
  • Stretch – Always stretch after exercise to help increase your flexibility. This helps to reduce and prevent repetitive postoperative pain. It is best to stretch after you exercise, since your muscles are warmed up then.
  • Use proper workplace ergonomics – Ergonomically redesign your workstation to fit your height, arm length, and usual tasks. This will reduce the amount of stress on your tendons and joints, helping with joint and tendon health.
  • Prepare your muscles to play – Strengthening muscles used in your activity or sport will help them better withstand stress and load.

Treatment You Can Follow

The goal of treating tendinitis is to relieve your pain and reduce the inflammation. Sometimes, over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to help you manage your tendinitis.

1) Medications

For tendinitis, your doctor may recommend these medications:

  • Pain relievers: Taking aspirin, which is a type of painkiller, may relieve joint pain with tendinitis. Topical creams that contain anti-inflammatory medications are effective in relieving pain without the potential side effects of taking medication by mouth.
  • Corticosteroids: Sometimes your doctor injects a corticosteroid in the tendons to relieve pain. Cortisone injections can reduce inflammation and help ease pain. Corticosteroids are not recommended for chronic tendinitis (lasting over three months), as repeated injections may weaken the tendon and increase your risk of rupturing the tendon.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP): When you get a blood clot, this kind of blood treatment involves taking a sample of your blood and then spinning the blood to separate out the platelets and other healing factors. The root cause of the pain is an injection in the painful area. Her research show that per prosthetic tendon integration using PRP should work for many chronic tendon problems (if tests are done).
  • Physical therapy: You might benefit from a program of specific exercise designed to stretch and strengthen the affected muscle-tendon unit. For instance, eccentric strengthening — which emphasizes contraction of a muscle while it’s lengthening — has been shown to be a very effective treatment for many chronic tendon conditions and is now considered first line treatment.
  • Surgical and other procedures: When physical therapy doesn’t help, your doctor might tell you to try dry needling. It involves making small holes in the tendon with a fine needle to stimulate factors involved in tendon healing.
  • Ultrasonic treatment: This procedure uses a small incision to implant a special device that uses ultrasonic sound waves to break up scar tissue.
  • Surgery: Depending on the severity of your tendon injury, surgical repair may be needed, especially if the tendon has torn away from the bone.

2) Lifestyle and Home Remedies

To treat tendinitis at home, R.I.C.E. is the acronym to remember — rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This treatment can help speed your recovery and help prevent further problems.


Avoid pain or swelling during the procedure. Don’t tolerate discomfort; instead, treat it like a challenge. Rest is crucial for tissue healing. That doesn’t mean that you must be completely immobilised. You can do other types of physical therapy to help the tendon heals more effectively. Swimming and water exercise may be well-tolerated.


To reduce pain, inflammation, stiffness and swelling, ice the area for 20 minutes several times a day. Ice packs, ice massages, slush baths, and other forms of cold therapy can all help you heal from cold injuries. To give an icepack massage you will freeze a frozen plastic cup full of water and use the ice to lay directly on the skin.


Because swelling can result in loss of motion in an injured joint, take it easy and keep the area compressed until the swelling has stopped. Wraps or compressive elastic bandages are best.


To relieve knee pain caused by tendinitis, you should raise your knee as high as possible.

Recovery Time Involved

Tendons take a long time to heal because the blood supply to tendons is typically low. Tendinosis may take 3 to 6 months Trusted Source to heal, but physical therapy and other treatments may improve the outlook.

A person who has tendinitis can expect a faster recovery time of up to 6 weeks.

Tendinosis Can Be Cured

Although treatment can be difficult, the long-term outlook for tendinosis is good. Around 80 percent of people with tendinosis make a full recovery in 3 to 6 months, depending on whether their condition is chronic or not.

Tendinosis that is left untreated can lead to ruptured tendons so early treatment is crucial. People can sometimes prevent tendinosis by ensuring they warm up thoroughly before exercise or beginning an activity involving repetitive joint movements. Wearing supportive shoes can protect tendons in the lower limbs.

Rest and physical therapy can speed up the recovery process and improve the long-term outlook for this condition.


Tendinosis is not a major disease. What you first need to do is consult your doctor and ensure that you follow the correct procedure. Make sure to avoid delaying the treatment as it can lead to constant pain throughout your life.

Always make sure to provide all the necessary details to your physician. Also, avoid any gym activities, unless or until it is confirmed by your physician. Furthermore, make sure to take a lot of rest and even if you are doing exercise, reduce the intensity for a safer recovery.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.

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