Tendonitis is the irritation or inflammation of one or more tendons, the thick fibrous tissues which primarily serve to attach muscles to bones.
A wide variety of injuries and illnesses known better by other names are in fact specific permutations of tendonitis, including but not limited to tennis elbow and jumper’s knee.
Despite the different names and areas affected, the symptoms, treatments, and causes of tendonitis in all permutations remain largely the same.
Symptoms of tendonitis can include:
- Dull ache in the affected joint, especially during movement
- Redness in nearby skin
- Mild swelling
What Causes Tendonitis?
Tendonitis usually occurs as a result of repetitive motions putting stress on your tendon over time, though it can also occur as a result of injury or overuse in a short period of time. Most tendonitis occurs as a result of physical activities with specific motions involved, such as those involved in various sports, occupations, and hobbies.
While anyone can end up with tendonitis unexpectedly, certain factors greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll find yourself suffering inflammation of one or more tendons.
- Age. As you age, your tendons become less flexibile. This in turn makes them more likely to form micro-tears in response to strain, leading to tendonitis.
- Sports. Tendonitis is strongly associated with sports, as the repetitive motions associated with sports are prime for causing the condition. Good form and technique will greatly reduce your risk of such injuries, however, as training has typically developed to avoid such strain.
- Occupation. Occupations involving physical labor can also lead to tendonitis, and unlike tendonitis rarely have thoroughly developed techniques and “good form” for avoiding the injury. Pay attention to repetitive motions, awkward motions, the use of vibrating equipment, reaching overhead, and similar forms of strain in your work day. Once you’ve identified the threats in your occupation, it becomes much easier to minimize your risk through varied movement, rest, etc.
Tendonitis usually occurs not simply as a result of excessive use of the implicated tendon or tendons, but from improper usage. Overtraining, exertion with improper form, a lack of rest, and similar sources of excess strain overexert the tendon and lead to inflammation.
- Rest. Proper rest after exertion is key to avoiding tendonitis and various other injuries and ailments associated with sports and similarly taxing activities. This means proper rest both within the day between period of exertion and at night, when you need to sleep properly to recover. A failure to rest can lead to many symptoms of overtraining, including but not limited to tendonitis, fatigue, mood swings, and susceptibility to injury and illness.
- Varied exercise. Tendonitis and other injuries are often best prevented through more varied exercise, to better build the other muscles and tendons associated with an exercise. This allows the implicated tendons to offload more of the stress of the movement, minimizes the risk of injury, and helps your body more rapidly recover from exertion.
- Stretch. Stretching after exercise can greatly improve recovery time from exertion, which in turn allows you to repeat movements more frequently without the risk of developing tendonitis. Stretching can also help prevent tendons from tightening up after a workout, which can lead to reduced range of motion and increased risk of injury. Don’t stretch before exercise, however, as this can increase your risk of injury.
- Proper form. Often, the strain which leads to tendonitis is not inherent to an exercise or activity, but a result of improper form putting additional strain on the tendon. Most physical activities can be performed in such a way that strain is offloaded to muscles or distributed across tendons.
With proper form and care to rest, even daily repetition of intense motions are safe under most circumstances.
Tendonitis can be difficult to avoid if your hobby or occupation involves repetitive motions, but all the more so if you aren’t aware of the risk. Keeping the potential of tendon strain in mind will provide a significant decrease.