Tendonitis (Achilles Tendonitis, Rotator Cuff Tendonitis, Tennis/Golfer's Elbow, Trigger Finger, De Quervain's)

Learn about tendonitis, a painful tendon inflammation condition that is known by several names including Achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, trigger finger and more. If you are experiencing pain caused by tendonitis, trust in the care from the expert team at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, a thick, tough cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Tendonitis can affect any tendon in the body, causing swelling, pain and discomfort. Tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, jumper’s knee and trigger finger are all forms of tendonitis, all painful but preventable tendon injuries.

Tendonitis can occur when you’ve put too much stress on a muscle or joint. Tendonitis may be the result of overdoing a physical activity, especially if you are not accustomed to it. The most common forms of tendonitis are:

  • Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). This is characterized by pain in the back side of the elbow and forearm. People who play tennis or other racquet sports can develop this condition from improper swinging technique or using the wrong equipment. 
  • Golfer’s or baseball elbow (medial epicondylitis). This form of tendonitis is characterized by pain from the elbow to the wrist on the palm side of the forearm. 
  • Rotator cuff or biceps tendonitis. In this condition, the tendons in the rotator cuff or other areas of the shoulder become swollen, usually from being pinched by surrounding bone, ligaments or cartilage.
  • deQuervain’s tendonitis. The most common kind of tendonitis found in the wrist, deQuervain’s is caused by irritation or swelling of the tendons along the thumb side of your wrist. 
  • Trigger finger. Tendons work as pulleys to help the fingers bend. They have a slick lining that helps them work smoothly. When that lining becomes swollen or the tendon develops a knot, it is called trigger finger or trigger thumb. This condition causes pain, popping or a catching feeling, and the finger may become locked in a bent position. 
  • Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles is the body’s largest tendon and connects the leg muscles to the foot. Achilles tendonitis occurs from poor flexibility and overuse. 

The tendon will repair itself quickly if the damage is slight or happens only occasionally. But the pain and inflammation can become chronic if the area is damaged frequently. Treatment of tendonitis includes:

  • Activity modification
  • RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Chiropractic care
  • Steroid injection

In severe cases of tendonitis, surgery may be required to repair a damaged or ruptured tendon.

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