A painful condition, tendonitis involves inflammation of the tendons—fibrous cords connecting muscles to bones. Commonly occurring in the knees, heels, shoulders, elbows, and wrists, tendonitis leads to swelling and discomfort when moving the affected body part. You might know tendonitis by the following terms:
- Jumper’s knee
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Pitcher’s shoulder
- Swimmer’s shoulder
Whatever you call it, tendonitis can have a negative effect on quality of life. And while the condition usually improves on its own with rest, more severe cases may require physical therapy, medication, and even surgery to heal. Understanding the signs and symptoms of tendonitis is the first step in knowing when and if to seek medical attention.
Tennis Elbow and Tendonitis Symptoms
Wondering if you’re suffering from tennis elbow or just a mild cause of overexertion? Here are some of the primary tendonitis symptoms and signs:
- Pain that worsens with movement
- A cracking or grating feeling around the bone
- A lump near the affected tendon
Despite the name, tennis elbow often occurs in people who have never picked up a racket. In fact, the condition may occur in anyone whose work or hobbies involve repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. To that end, tennis elbow is common in painters, plumbers, and carpenters as well. Older people are more likely to get tennis elbow, as tendons become less flexible with age.
If you’re suffering from persistent pain around your elbow that spreads into the forearm and wrist, or if you’ve noticed a bony bump on the outside of your elbow, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Left untreated, tendonitis can cause a more serious condition called tendon rupture, which often requires surgery to repair.
There’s no one cure for tendonitis. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation while giving the body time to heal. Some of the most effective home remedies for the condition include:
- Resting and avoiding activities that led to the injury
- Icing the affected area for 20 minutes every couple hours
- Using a compress or bandage in the affected area
- Elevating the limb or injured body part
- Taking OTC medication, such as ibuprofen
It’s important to note that tendonitis can take four to six weeks to heal. However, more serious or long-lasting cases of tendonitis may require additional treatment. If rest and medication are doing little to alleviate your discomfort, you might want to see a doctor to discuss the following treatment options:
- Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain
- Shockwave therapy
- Platelet rich plasma injections to encourage healing
- Surgery to repair ruptures and remove damaged tissue
Note that it could take six months for a tendon to heal completely after surgery.
Achilles Tendonitis Treatment
Athletes and other people who spend a lot of time on their feet are at risk for a type of tendonitis affecting the Achilles tendon. With Achilles tendonitis, the large tendon that runs down the back of the leg becomes inflamed. As a result, patients may suffer stiffness, swelling, and pain that worsens with activity. Treatments for Achilles tendonitis vary based on the severity of the condition and may include:
- Rest and avoiding repetitive motions
- Stretching and muscle strengthening exercises
- Icing the area
- Elevating the affected foot
- Physical therapy
- Taking anti-inflammatories
- Wearing special shoes to take tension off the tendon
In severe cases, patients may require steroid injections or surgery to treat their Achilles tendonitis.
Amino Acids as a Tendonitis Cure
An increasing amount of research suggests that amino acids can boost musculoskeletal health and even help repair damage. When people engage in exercise, their muscles break down more rapidly, and additional protein is required to prevent minor injuries from becoming serious ones.
According to a 2018 article titled “Nutritional Research May Be Useful in Treating Tendon Injuries,” evidence suggests that certain amino acids, including leucine, arginine, and glutamine, can aid in tendon growth and healing. However, it’s always best to consume a balanced mixture of essential amino acids to ensure optimal health and wellness.
The article goes on to reveal that tendon surgery isn’t always successful, and many patients experience chronic pain even after treatment. More research is needed to determine if amino acids could be used in therapeutic approaches to tendon injuries and other problems.
Additionally, people can protect their long-term tendon health by avoiding exercises and activities that put undue stress on tendons. It’s also smart to mix up workout routines, take time to stretch, and use ergonomic equipment in the workplace.