Tag Archives: bursitis

The Low-Down on Tendonitis

Tendonitis and bursitis are both syndromes categorized by a pattern of pain and inflammation along a particular tendon or bursa and within the soft tissues around bones, muscles and cartridge. Both are common, and can also be quite painful afflictions. We’ll be looking at tendonitis first, and bursitis in the next post.


Tendonitis occurs when a tendon (a fibrous band attaching muscles to the bone) becomes inflamed for one of many reasons and causes pain and irritation to the surrounding area. The main symptoms are pain and sometimes visible inflammation around the affected tendon and joint.

Causes of Isolated Cases of Tendonitis 

There are many potential causes of isolated cases of tendonitis, some of which include:

  • Repetitive actions – Most often, people develop tendonitis gradually from certain hobbies or careers that involve repetitive actions such as sports (like basketball), hammering, carving sculptures or playing musical instruments.
  • Injury – an acute injury to the area which can tear the tendon, exposing it to damage and inflammation which may develop into tendonitis.
  • Misaligned posture or gait – if a person has a misaligned gait or walking problems, it could lead to tendonitis of the lower body joints.
  • Arthritis – sometimes tendonitis behaves like certain types of arthritis, or may be indicative of underlying arthritis.

Common Types of Tendonitis

Tendonitis can occur along various tendons, but most often occurs in the:

  • Shoulders – tendonitis can strike in two places on the shoulder: the bicep (causing pain down the middle arm and on the outside of the shoulder), or the rotator cuff (causing pain on the tip of the shoulder and the upper arm).
  • Elbows – Commonly referred to as tennis elbow, tendonitis can afflict the outer elbow causing significant pain in the area, particularly during activity. A brace is usually worn for activity in this case.
  • Wrists – tendonitis of the wrist usually runs along the upper part of the wrist extending up the arm or down the hand. It can be exacerbated by the presence of ganglions which can pinch the tendon.
  • Knees – also known as ‘jumper’s knee’, this type of tendonitis is prevalent among athletes who frequently cycle, play certain sports, dance or run, and begin to develop tiny tears in the tendon that runs along the knee.
  • Heels – A commonly chronic type of tendonitis affects the Achilles tendon which runs along the back of the heel. The pain can radiate along the bottom of the foot as well, and can be comorbid with another painful foot affliction, plantar fasciitis. Symptoms are often felt in the back of the ankles when pushing on balls of the feet
  • Thumbs – when the tendon running along the thumb becomes irritated or pinched it causes what is also known as DeQuervain’s tendonitis. It may cause pain and inflammation along the outer thumb and down to the wrist. It is usually caused by repetitive actions such as cross stitching. It is most common in middle-aged women, and can sometimes be brought on by pregnancy.

Prevention and Treatment for Tendonitis

To prevent developing tendonitis (or bursitis), it is advisable to take frequent breaks during repetitive activities, wear protective braces on joints when doing repetitive actions such as hammering, do regular stretching to help prevent issues around specific joints, and stop any activity as soon as you feel pain. Doctors may prescribe NSAIDs or other pain medications to help make the healing period more tolerable. Tendonitis and bursitis are usually treated by a physiotherapist using a combination of ice (for the first couple days) and heat afterwards, sometimes using ultrasound technology or a TENS machine. Some recurrent cases of tendonitis or bursitis are treated with corticosteroid injections. If these techniques do not work and pain and inflammation remain for months, the patient may be referred to a orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist.

Check out our next article on bursitis to read whether recurrent tendonitis and bursitis can signify an underlying chronic condition. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions about the symptoms or conditions listed above, our qualified, board certified physicians are around 24/7/365 to assist you.