What is Tendinitis?
Tendinitis is defined as swelling of a tendon. Tendons are the thickened, fibrous end pieces of muscles which allow them to attach to bones. Tendons often have a covering surrounding them called a synovial sheath. This sheath helps hydrate the tendon. In some cases this sheath becomes inflamed and compresses the tendon causing pain and decreased motion. This condition is known as tenosynovitis and may feel similar to and have the same symptoms as tendinitis.
What causes Tendinitis?
While overuse is typically the most common cause of tendinitis, several other things may cause or contribute to the development of the condition. Those may include:
- Repetitive motions
- Using vibrating tools
- Awkward positions
- Hard, prolonged exercise or activity
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Age-related (mid-to older age people)
Tendinitis has been described as having 3 phases of development, though it is more realistic that these occur as part of a continuum (not separate) as the condition worsens.
Stage 1: The tendon undergoes the initial injury or stressor. Typically from some type of overuse or repetitive motion over a long period of time.
Stage 2: Aggravation to the tendon continues and there is a failure for it to properly heal itself. People press through the discomfort and try to take steps to alleviate the condition on their own. Commonly, people think it will go away with time.
Stage 3: Tears in the tendon occur causing weakness and increased pain. This stage begins the process of breakdown of the structures of the tendon. This is usually when people seek help from a medical professional. At home remedies and over the counter meds are not making the condition better.
What are the symptoms of Tendinitis?
The typical complaint of people experiencing tendonitis is pain with joint motion. Pain can range from mild to extreme depending on the severity of the issue and the stage it is in (acute or happened relatively current vs. chronic or longstanding). Other symptoms may include swelling of the affected area and tenderness to touch. If the condition is chronic there may be some snapping or popping around the affected joint when it is moved.
There are several regions of the body that are commonly affected with tendinitis. The common thread with each region is that it is often overused.
- Rotator cuff tendinitis (shoulder)
- Biceps tendinitis (arm)
- DeQuervain Syndrome (thumb)
- Trigger finger (finger)
- Achilles tendinitis (back of leg/heel)
How to Prevent Tendinitis?
- Stretch and warm-up: Prepare your body for any strenuous activities by warming up before activities and stretching afterwards to properly cool down.
- Try to minimize or avoid any aggravating motions or activities that will place extra stresses on the body for long periods of time.
- Change or modify activities that may be causing stress or strain on a particular body part.
- Modify your workplace to fit you to minimize stress that may occur as you go through your work day. Consult an ergonomist.
Tendinitis Prevention Pathway
The art and science of adapting your physical workspace and surroundings to function best with your specific needs.
Proper posture, position and motion are critical to prevention. It impossible to achieve any of these without the proper workstation setup and healthy mobility.
The practice of performing mobilization and exercises to maintain proper functioning of the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles and everything connecting them).
Warm-ups, stretches and strengthening exercises specifically designed to address risks to your mobility health from your environment (work and home).
Injury and strain due to fatigue is very common and avoidable with proper rest intervals. Microbreaks during activities decrease injury risks.
It doesn’t take a lot of downtime to allow your body to recover and reset. Depending on the activity rest may just be one minute for every twenty minutes of activity.
How is Tendinitis treated?
Tendinitis is typically left to self treatment to include rest, ice, and OTC medicines. Self-massage may be beneficial to help the healing process. In more severe cases corticosteroids and physical or occupational therapy may be needed. Extreme cases of tendinitis may require surgery.
The True Costs of Tendinitis?
- To You: direct costs of maximizing insurance deductibles and out of pocket max plus the costs of reduced quality of life, lost productivity due to time away from work, and potential disability.
- To Employers: direct costs of $2,000-$4000 per case plus the cost of quality, lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover.
- To the U.S. Economy: direct care costs over $22 billion every year plus the costs of lost productivity and disability.
How Common is Tendinitis?
FAQs About Tendinitis
Non-surgical treatment including prescription and OTC medications, office visits and physical therapy is between $2000-$3000. Surgical intervention is estimated to start around $4000.