How many types of tendonitis are there? What are its main symptoms? Where on the body can tendonitis occur? Read on to explore the answers to the many questions you have about this condition.
Pain is the main symptom of tendonitis. Generally, in tendonitis, pain is experienced where the tendon sits, as well as in the area surrounding it. Pain may occur gradually, or it can be sudden and severe. You may experience pain that is worse with movement or activity. You might feel pain at night more than during the daytime. In more severe cases of tendonitis of the shoulder, you can lose range of motion, referred to as “adhesive capsulitis” or “frozen shoulder.”
Tendonitis in your shoulder: Rotator cuff tendonitis is the most common type of tendonitis in the shoulder. According to The Family Physician, this type of tendonitis affects one in 50 adults. The affected tendon is that of the supraspinatus muscle, which connects to the upper portion of the upper arm bone (humerus) at your shoulder joint. Sometimes, but not as often, the tendon of the infraspinatus muscle, or other tendons of the rotator cuff, are affected. In most cases, the tendon is injured from overuse, particularly in jobs such as carpentry, painting and welding, or in sports such as baseball and tennis, in which you elevate your arm repeatedly. The average patient is a male laborer over age 40 with shoulder pain on the same side as the dominant hand.
Tendonitis in your elbow: Two common types of tendonitis involve the elbow: lateral epicondylitis and medial epicondylitis. Both types are common injuries in athletes who throw a ball repeatedly or play racquet sports.
Lateral epicondylitis, often referred to as “tennis elbow,” causes pain on the outer side of the elbow joint. This condition can affect up to half of all adult athletes who play any type of racquet sport. This type of tendonitis also can be caused by any activity that continuously twists and flexes your wrist, such as pulling weeds or painting.
Medial epicondylitis, often referred to as “golfer’s elbow,” causes pain on the inner side of the elbow and is less common than tennis elbow. It usually is associated with jobs that require repetitive elbow movements (such as construction work) more than with sports.
Tendonitis in your knee: Often referred to as “jumper’s knee,” this is the most common form of knee tendonitis. It involves the patellar tendon at the lower edge of the kneecap, or the quadriceps tendon at the upper edge of the kneecap. It is common among basketball players and runners, as it is associated with repetitive movements of the knee.
Tendonitis in your wrist: In the wrist, tendonitis usually is de Quervain’s disease—a condition that causes pain in the back of the wrist and base of the thumb. De Quervain’s disease usually develops in those who repeatedly grasp or pinch with their thumb. It can sometimes develop during pregnancy or without any reason at all.
Achilles tendonitis: This type of tendonitis affects the Achilles tendon—the large ropelike tendon that connects to the heel bone at the back of the foot. It typically is caused by overuse, particularly in sports involving running or repeated jumping. It is found in 15% of all running injuries. Poor running technique and/or poorly fitting athletic shoes can contribute, particularly if the back of your shoe digs into the Achilles tendon above your heel. Sometimes, though not very often, Achilles tendonitis can be linked to an inflammatory illness, such as ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
You should see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms, as they could be signs of other problems in need of immediate attention.
• High fever
• General illness
• Inability to move the affected area
• Many sites of pain
• Redness, swelling and warmth