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What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the tendon and can affect any tendon in the body. Tendons are thick cords of soft tissue that connect muscle to bone. Common places to get tendonitis are the elbow (tennis or golfer’s elbow), shoulder (rotator cuff tendonitis), knee (patella tendonitis) and ankle (Achilles tendonitis).

Common Causes

Tendonitis is most often caused by repetitive movements, overuse, minor injuries to the affected area and less commonly from a more serious injury. Microscopic tears form in the tendon, which cause inflammation and pain.


Symptoms include pain with movement and to the touch as well as swelling on the tendon itself.


Diagnosis of this condition usually includes a thorough history and physical exam.  X-ray and MRI may be used to rule out other conditions. An EMG may be used to rule out nerve compression.

Common Treatments

  • Non-surgical Treatment
    Non-surgical treatment includes limiting or stopping the activities that cause the pain and inflammation, using anti-inflammatory medication, and icing the area affected. Splinting may be used in conjunction with these areas to help take stress off the tendon and decrease the irritation. Cortisone injections may also be used to decrease inflammation and pain as well.

    Physical therapy will include use of modalities such as ultrasound iontophoresis (medication directed into the tendon by electrical stimulation), and ice, as well as deep friction massage and soft tissue mobilization, stretching and eccentric strengthening.


  • Surgical Treatment
    Surgical options are arthroscopy or an open procedure where the surgeon cleans up scar tissue around the tendon, the tendon sheath and removes any diseased soft tissue. Surgery may also include reattaching muscle to bone.