Tendonitis is a condition in which the tendon, or tissue that attaches muscle to bone, is inflamed, irritated and/or swollen. Tendonitis can occur as the result of tendon overuse, injury, or because of age.
Tendonitis of the Elbow
Lateral epicondylitis (commonly known as Tennis Elbow) is actually a type of tendonitis of the elbow marked by pain over the bone on the outside of the elbow. The piece of bone that can be felt on the outside of the elbow is called the lateral epicondyle. When the tendons attached to this bone are overused, they can deteriorate and become inflamed and painful. This damages the forearm extensor muscles, which are active when something is gripped, such as a tennis racket. However, the condition is not restricted to tennis players.
Tendonitis of the Knee
Patellar tendonitis is characterized by inflammation and pain at the patellar tendon (the tendon below the kneecap). This structure is the tendon attachment of the quadriceps (thigh) muscles to the leg, which is important in straightening the knee or slowing the knee during bending or squatting. Patellar Tendonitis is typically a grade 1 or 2 strain of the tendon. A grade 1 strain is a mild strain. There is a slight pull without obvious tearing (referred to as microscopic tendon tearing). There is no loss of strength, and the tendon is the correct length. A grade 2 strain is a moderate strain, which involves tearing of tendon fibers within the substance of the tendon or at the bone-tendon junction. The length of the tendon is usually increased, and there is decreased strength. A grade 3 strain is a complete rupture of the tendon.
Tendonitis of the Shoulder/Rotator Cuff
Tendonitis in the shoulder is common in both young athletes and middle-aged people. Young athletes who use their arms overhead for swimming, baseball, and tennis are particularly vulnerable. Those who do repetitive lifting or overhead activities using the arm, such as paper hanging, construction, or painting are also susceptible.
Symptoms of Shoulder Tendonitis
- Swelling and tenderness in the front of the shoulder
- Pain and stiffness when you lift your arm and reach for something
- Pain when the arm is lowered from an elevated position
- Minor pain that is present both with activity and at rest
- Pain radiating from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm
- Athletes in overhead sports may have pain when throwing or serving a tennis ball
Symptoms may start off to be mild, but can progress to moderate and severe pain. These symptoms may include:
- Pain at night
- Loss of strength and motion
- Difficulty doing activities that place the arm behind the back, such as buttoning or zippering
- Pain that comes on suddenly
Shoulder Tendonitis Treatment Options
Conservative treatment is the first approach. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and restore function. In planning your treatment, your doctor will consider your age, activity level, and general health.
- Rest and avoid overhead activities.
- Begin taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Begin physical therapy including stretching exercises to improve range of motion. Once your pain is improving, your therapist can start you on a strengthening program.
- Steroid injections into the bursa beneath the acromion can relieve pain.
When nonsurgical treatment does not relieve pain, your doctor may recommend surgery and will discuss those options with you.
To make an appointment, or if you have questions, call us at 404-778-7777 any time 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.