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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

What is tendinitis?

Tendinitis is painful inflammation or breakdown of your tendons. It may also be called tendinopathy. Tendinitis often occurs in the knee, shoulder, ankle, hip, or elbow.

What increases my risk for tendinitis?

  • Injury, overuse, or repeated movement of a joint
  • Not warming up before exercise, or not resting enough between activities
  • Use of shoes or exercise equipment that do not fit well
  • Muscle weakness, balance problems, or poor posture

What are the signs and symptoms of tendinitis?

You may have redness, pain, or swelling around your joint, tendon, or muscle. You may also have pain, stiffness, or decreased movement in your joint.

How is tendinitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will check your range of motion of the affected joint. He or she may also lightly press on your tendon to check for pain. You may also need an ultrasound, x-ray, or MRI to show if you have tendinitis or another condition. Do not enter the MRI room with any metal. Metal can cause serious damage. Tell the provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

How is tendinitis treated?

  • Pain medicines such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen may decrease swelling and pain. These medicines are available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Follow directions. NSAIDs and acetaminophen may cause liver or kidney damage if not taken correctly.
  • Steroids may be used to decrease pain and swelling. They may be given as a pill or as an injection into the affected area. Steroids are rarely used in children.
  • Surgery may rarely be needed if other treatment does not work.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest your tendon as directed to help it heal. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop putting weight on your affected area.
  • Apply ice to help decrease swelling and pain. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the bag with a towel before you place it on the affected area. Apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Use a support device , such as a cane, splint, shoe insert, or brace. A support device may help reduce your pain.
  • Go to physical therapy if directed. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. You may also learn how to improve your posture, and how to lift or exercise correctly.

How can I prevent tendinitis?

  • Warm up and cool down when you exercise. Run in place slowly or walk at a brisk pace to warm your muscles before you exercise. When you finish exercising, walk for a few minutes to cool down.
    Warm up and Cool Down
  • Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles around your joint. Ease into an exercise routine for the first 3 weeks to prevent another injury. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. Rest fully between activities.
  • Use the right equipment for sports and exercise. Wear braces or tape around weak joints as directed.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have increased redness over the joint, or swelling in the joint.
  • You suddenly cannot move your joint.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have increased pain even after you take medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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