Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with tendonitis? You are not alone; the condition is common. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis) is the reason more than 70,000 people miss work each year. Although painful, the good news, according to American Family Physician, is that most people with overuse tendinopathies (about 80%) fully recover within three to six months, with outpatient treatment including rest, icing and strengthening exercises.
Tendinopathy is the umbrella term used for painful conditions that occur in and around your tendons. Sometimes referred to as “calcific tendonitis” or “bicipital tendonitis, tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon—the thick, fibrous cord structure that attaches your bone to muscle. It is considered an injury of the tendon. Tendonitis can take weeks to months to go away, depending on the severity of the injury, and can be quite painful.
A number of factors can put you at risk of developing tendonitis. Typically, it is caused by repetitive movement, overuse or impact on a specific area. There are many common, repetitive physical activities that can put you at risk of developing tendonitis, including, but not limited to, cleaning and scrubbing, gardening, painting, raking and shoveling. Sports such as baseball, golf, skiing and tennis also can put you at risk. Tendonitis is common in people who exercise hard on weekends—commonly referred to as “weekend warriors.”
Other contributing factors include abnormal or misplaced joints, poor posture and a lack of warming up before exercise or stretching afterward. Some antibiotics have been associated with tendonitis. Simple aging also can lead to tendonitis. Making beneficial changes to your exercise schedule, work habits and daily routines can be very helpful in your recovery.
Who is at Risk?
Although anyone can develop tendonitis, it is more common in people over age 40. As we get older, our tendons lose their elasticity and can become injured or inflamed and tear more easily. Conditions such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, diabetes, gout and thyroid disorders can increase the risk of developing tendonitis. An infection, or a sudden or serious injury, also can cause the condition.
In What Tendons Can it Occur?
Tendonitis can develop wherever your tendon connects a bone to a muscle, anywhere on your body. The most common spots are your Achilles tendon (the Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone, also known as the calcaneus), the base of your thumb, your elbow, hip, knee and shoulder (rotator cuff). If your condition does not improve within one week, see your doctor.