Tendinitis: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Complications, Treatment and Prevention

Tendons are thick cords that connect bones to muscles.

When tendons become inflamed or irritated, they can cause pain at the tendon site and the surrounding area, as well as inhibit movement.

When this happens, this condition is called tendonitis.

Tendinitis is then the inflammation or irritation of a tendon , any of the thick fibrous cords that connect the muscles with the bones.

This condition causes pain and tenderness in the joints.

Tendonitis is most common in the joints of the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and heels.

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Some common names for tendonitis problems are:

  • The tennis elbow.
  • Golfer’s elbow.
  • The pitcher’s shoulder.
  • The swimmer’s shoulder.
  • Patellar tendonitis.

Surgical intervention is necessary when the tendonitis is severe and causes the tendon to rupture.

But in most cases, tendonitis can be treated with plenty of rest, physical therapy sessions, and the prescription of pain-relieving medications.

Causes of tendonitis

The main causes of tendonitis are repeated movement of the joint or an injury.

Activities such as sports, gardening, carpentry, painting among others.

There are other causes of tendonitis that simply cannot be avoided. These include:

  • Unevenly located bones and joints, which can put an unhealthy amount of stress on surrounding tissues.
  • Pre-existing conditions such as psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and thyroid disorders.
  • An exaggerated movement or activity that is not common.
  • Various infections can also cause tendonitis, although this is not common.

Risk factors

Risk factors include age, since with age and aging tendons tend to be inflexible, causing injuries more easily.

The practice of certain sports and some work occupations are also risk factors for suffering from tendonitis.

Work occupations

In some cases, actions to perform daily tasks can cause tendonitis, these include:

  • Repetitive movements.
  • Awkward positions
  • Frequent overload.
  • Vibration.
  • A lot of effort.


When doing sports that involve repetitive movements, tendinitis is very likely to develop, especially when the technique is not adequate. This can happen with:

  • Baseball.
  • Basketball.
  • Cakes.
  • Golf.
  • Gymnastics.
  • Swimming.
  • Tennis.

Symptoms of tendonitis

The two main symptoms of tendonitis are:

  • Pain and discomfort at the tendon site that can also affect the surrounding area. The onset of pain can be sudden and severe, or it can start out as a dull ache, slowly getting worse over time.
  • Limited mobility or complete loss of motion at the affected tendon site. However, this is more common on the shoulder than on the hands or wrists.

Complications of tendonitis

Tendonitis can cause the tendon to rupture, which may require surgical intervention.

When tendon inflammation is not treated and persists for a long time, it can complicate and develop tendinosis.

It causes degenerative modifications in the tendon with changes in the shape and dimensions of the blood vessels.


The first steps in treating tendonitis are simple and can be done at home. These things include:

  • Avoiding activities that you suspect may have contributed to your symptoms.
  • Rest and apply ice packs to the affected area.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Using topical anti-inflammatory creams or gels.

If these treatment methods are ineffective and symptoms do not subside, more advanced options should be chosen, such as:

  • Corticosteroid injections, which are commonly used as they decrease pain and swelling almost immediately.
  • Therapy, which may include specific range-of-motion exercises and stretches, as well as splinting especially for the fingers and thumbs.
  • Surgery may be necessary when all other treatment methods fail.

Nerve damage

Nerve damage, or neuropathy, can include numbness, loss of sensation, and cause problems with movement because motor functions are impaired and the appendages do not function to their full capacity.


To reduce your chances of developing tendonitis, these suggestions should be followed:

  • Soften: Avoid activities that put excessive stress on the tendons, especially for prolonged periods. If pain occurs during exercises, it is necessary to stop the exercise and rest.
  • Mix: when an exercise or activity causes pain, combination training should be tried, performing an impact exercise, such as running, with other lower-impact exercises, such as swimming.
  • Improve technique: Consider taking lessons or getting professional instructions when starting a new sport or using exercise equipment to improve technique in an activity or exercise.
  • Stretching: After exercise, when the muscles warm up, the range of motion of the joints should be stretched. To help minimize repetitive trauma to tight tissues.
  • Use proper workplace ergonomics – chair, keyboard, and desk should be adjusted to suit your height, arm length, and routine tasks to protect your joints and tendons from undue stress.
  • Prepare muscles before sports: Strengthening the muscles used in your activity or sport can help them better resist stress and load.