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What Is Tendinitis?

tendinitis: elbow strain

Tendinitis (also called tendonitis) is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle.

What Causes Tendinitis?

Tendinitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden more serious injury.

There are many activities that can cause tendinitis, including:

  • Gardening
  • Raking
  • Carpentry
  • Cleaning house
  • Shoveling
  • Painting
  • Scrubbing
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Skiing
  • Throwing and pitching

Incorrect posture at work or home or poor stretching or conditioning before exercise or playing sports also increases a person's risk. Other risk factors for tendinitis, include:

  • An abnormal or poorly placed bone or joint (such as length differences in your legs or arthritis in a joint) that stresses soft-tissue structures.
  • Stresses from other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders, or unusual medication reactions.
  • Overuse or doing too much too soon when the tendons are not used to a movement or to the task taken on. Tendinitis is common in "weekend warriors," people that play and exercise hard only on weekends.
  • Occasionally an infection can cause tendinitis, especially infection from a cat or dog bite to the hand or a finger.


Who Gets Tendinitis?

Anyone can get tendinitis, but it is more common in adults, especially those over 40 years of age. As tendons age they tolerate less stress, are less elastic, and are easier to tear.

Where Does Tendinitis Occur?

Tendinitis can occur in almost any area of the body where a tendon connects a bone to a muscle. The most common places are:

  • Base of the thumb
  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Achilles tendon

What Are the Symptoms of Tendinitis?

The symptoms of tendinitis include:

  • Pain at the site of the tendon and surrounding area. Pain may gradually build up or be sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present.
  • Loss of motion in the shoulder, called "adhesive capsulitis" or frozen shoulder.


How Can I Avoid Tendinitis?

To avoid tendinitis, try these tips when performing activities:

  • Take it slow at first. Gradually build up your activity level.
  • Use limited force and limited repetitions.
  • Stop if unusual pain occurs. Do something else. Try again later and if pain recurs, stop that activity for the day.

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