Countless people suffer from tendinitis, which is characterized by irritation or inflammation of one or more tendons. Usually attributed to injury or repetitive overuse, this painful condition is common amongst older adults, who tend to experience decreased flexibility as they age. In some cases, tendinitis goes away on its own. Other times, treatment may be necessary to relieve pain, inflammation, and decreased physical ability.
Available Treatments for Tendinitis
In the vast majority of cases, a primary-care physician or urgent care facility will be able to effectively treat tendinitis. In some cases, however, patients may need the help of an orthopedic surgeon, rheumatologist, or physical therapist. Treatment options can vary depending on the severity of the condition. The most common treatments include:
- Rest: It’s usually a good idea to rest the tendon to give it a better chance to heal.
- Splints: Splints can help take pressure off the tendon during activity. They can also be used to immobilize the tendon during rest.
- Activity modification: By modifying the way you perform an activity, you can take stress of the tendon.
- Heat and cold: Ice rubs, slush baths, and cold packs can reduce swelling and relieve pain. Warm baths, heating pads, and hot packs can also relieve long-term aching related to overuse.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapists can assess body mechanics and help refine technique and form. This can take pressure off your tendons and reduce the likelihood of injury.
- Surgery: Surgery becomes necessary when tendons are torn or ruptured. In rare instances, it can also be used to relieve the symptoms of tendinitis.
- Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve swelling and pain. Other analgesics can also be used for pain relief.
- Injections: In some cases, steroidal injections can be used to relieve inflammation and pain. With that said, certain tendons should not receive injections due to an increased risk of rupture.
Just about any repetitive activity can cause tendinitis, including raking, gardening, carpentry, shoveling, cleaning house, scrubbing, painting, golf, tennis, skiing and throwing. To minimize your risk, focus on using proper technique and form to reduce stress on your tendons. You can also reduce your risk by stretching and avoiding overuse. It’s also important to stay in shape, so you won’t overwhelm your tendons by engaging in rare physical activity.