While a few aches and pains may be part and parcel of being active, athletes and weekend warriors are more susceptible to tendinitis, irritation, or inflammation of a tendon, the cords that connect your muscles to your bone. In fact, about half of all school-age sports injuries are due to tendinitis.
Athletes and people who perform actions or a job with lots of repetition, like lifting, loading, or reaching overhead, are at higher risk of developing this condition as are people over 40 since with age soft tissues and tendons have a tendency to weaken.
The symptoms of tendinitis can be difficult to recognize since they’re similar to several other conditions, like osteoarthritis and bursitis. So, how can you tell if what you’re experiencing is tendinitis or something else?
Mark Hopkins, DPM, and the team at South Sound Foot & Ankle in Olympia, Washington, can diagnose and treat your tendinitis as part of our comprehensive sports medicine services. And since early treatment can give you the best prognosis, we’ve put together this guide to help you recognize the warning signs of tendinitis. Read on to learn more!
The thick, fibrous bands of tissue and collagen that connect your bones and muscles are called tendons. Tendons work like rubber bands, helping your body move and stay active.
When one of these bands gets hurt due to a sudden injury, like a collision, or repetitive motion, like tennis or swimming, they can get inflamed or irritated. This condition is called tendinitis.
Anyone can develop tendinitis, but certain risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition. For example, as you get older your tendons and other soft tissues lose flexibility, making you more susceptible to injury. Other risk factors include:
- Occupations involving repetitive motions, strong vibrations, and heavy exertion (e.g., landscaping, construction, jackhammering, etc.,)
- Playing sports that involve repetitive motions (e.g., running, swimming, tennis, golf, baseball, etc.)
- Not using proper technique and/or posture when performing activities that involve repetitive motions (e.g., scrubbing, shoveling, raking, gardening, etc.,)
- Having a condition that places stress on soft-tissue structures (e.g., arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis)
- Doing too much too soon or overusing the tendon without conditioning (e.g., skiing or a long hike once a year)
You can get tendinitis anywhere on the body where a tendon connects your bone and muscle, but certain areas experience trouble more frequently. These areas include the elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, thumb, and Achilles tendon.
What are the warning signs of tendinitis?
The signs and symptoms of tendinitis are easy to confuse with other conditions that affect your joints, like osteoarthritis. That’s because one of the first warning signs is a dull ache around the affected joint, especially during or after movement.
Pain due to tendinitis can build gradually in some cases or appear suddenly in others depending on the root cause of the inflammation. Other warning signs include:
- Feeling like the tendon is grating or cracking when it moves
- Swelling, heat, or redness around the affected joint
- A lump or bump along the affected tendon
In severe cases, tendinitis can cause the tendon to rupture. If this happens, it will be difficult to move the affected joint.
Are there treatments for tendinitis?
If Dr. Hopkins determines tendinitis is the cause of your symptoms, he creates a customized treatment plan to meet your needs. His goal is to help you recover quickly and get back to your normal activities as soon as possible while ensuring your injury heals completely.
The exact treatments and therapies Dr. Hopkins prescribes depend on the severity of your condition but may include one or more of the following options:
- Heat and ice therapy
- Physical therapy
- Stem cell therapy
- Pain-relieving injections
- Splint, braces, or other assistive devices
- Lifestyle changes
- Nutrition counseling
- Surgical Intervention
Wondering if your symptoms point to tendinitis? Contact Dr. Hopkins and the team at South Sound Foot & Ankle to find out or book an appointment online now!