What Is Tendonitis?

The tendons are thick cords found throughout the body that attach bones to muscles. Tendonitis occurs when those cords become irritated and inflamed.

Repetitive motion, like painting or pitching, is the main cause of tendonitis. Sudden injuries or degenerative conditions like arthritis can cause tendonitis as well.

Tendonitis can occur in any area of the body where there are tendons, but the most common areas are the:

Often, you can find relief from tendonitis symptoms – including pain and tenderness – using conservative therapies like rest, medication or physical therapy. In rare cases, when the tendonitis is severe, we may treat tendonitis with surgery.

No matter what caused your tendonitis, our orthopedic team will work with you to find the right combination of treatments to reduce pain and restore function – so you can get back to the things you love the most.

The Aurora Difference

Advanced Treatment for Tendonitis

As one of the largest regional health care providers in Wisconsin, Aurora Health Care treats thousands of people for tendonitis and other orthopedic conditions each year. That experience means we can quickly identify the treatment solution you need to get back to your active lifestyle.

When you come to us for treatment, you will also find:

  • Treatment for the whole person: Our orthopedists, primary care doctors and physical therapists create treatment plans that not only offer you tendonitis relief, but also fit your needs and lifestyle. You also have access to a range of therapies that treat the source of your pain – not just your symptoms. These therapies include physical therapy, acupuncture, sophisticated platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and arthroscopic surgery.
  • Sports medicine experts: If you’re an athlete with tendonitis, we know you’re eager to get back in the game. Our orthopedic experts – armed with their extra specialization in sports medicine – can help get you there. As sports medicine specialists, they work with athletic trainers and physical therapists to customize a treatment plan for your specific needs and sport. You’ll return to play safely – and as soon as possible.
  • Convenient care: We have multiple locations across eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, making it easy to get the care you need close to home, work or school. Find a location.

Symptoms & Causes

Tendonitis Symptoms & Causes

Tendonitis symptoms occur at the site of the inflamed tendon and include:

  • Pain, which may be gradual or begin suddenly
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Frozen shoulder, or an inability to move the shoulder, if you have shoulder tendonitis

Causes of tendonitis include:

  • Repetitive motion: Athletes, especially those who play sports like golf, tennis and baseball, are at high risk for tendonitis. People whose jobs require repetitive motions, like gardening or painting, are also at risk.
  • Improper technique or overuse: Using the wrong technique when playing sports or doing other movements can lead to tendonitis. In addition, playing sports infrequently or doing other strenuous activities when your body isn’t used to them can stress the tendons and cause tendonitis.
  • Certain medical conditions: Arthritis or other disorders may put stress on your tendons, leading to tendonitis.


Expert Tendonitis Diagnosis

To see if you have tendonitis, you’ll need to see a doctor. During your appointment, your doctor will perform a diagnostic exam that may include:

  • Discussion of your symptoms and medical history
  • Physical exam to look for common signs of tendonitis, like a thickened tendon or limited joint movement
  • X-rays, if necessary, to rule out other causes of the pain

Once tendonitis is confirmed, your doctor will go over all of your treatment options and help you choose a plan that’s right for you. Learn more about orthopedic diagnosis at Aurora Health Care.


Comprehensive Tendonitis Treatment

We’ll first recommend nonsurgical methods to provide tendonitis relief and restore function. Many people find long-lasting relief with these techniques to treat tendonitis:

  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, can relieve inflammation and help you feel better.
  • Physical therapy: Our skilled physical therapists work with you one-on-one to strengthen the tendons and reduce inflammation. We offer customized physical therapy plans to help you reach your health goals. Learn more about physical therapy.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Injections of steroid medications can reduce pain. However, we recommend these injections for short-term use.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP): Your platelets are a part of your blood and have proteins called growth factors. Growth factors promote healing. In this specialized treatment, we take some of your blood and separate the platelets. We then combine the separated platelets with another sample of your blood, so that it has higher levels of platelets and growth factors than normal. We inject that blood back into the inflamed tendon, where the growth factors can help the injury heal faster.

If you have chronic, long-term pain and these methods don’t work or work only temporarily, we may recommend minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. Using small incisions, these procedures allow us to access and repair your tendon in a more targeted way, leading to less tissue damage and an easier recovery. Find out more about minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery at Aurora.

If surgery isn’t right for you, physical or occupational therapy may be your best option. Our therapists can help you learn exercises that strengthen your tendons and muscles. These exercises also help improve your range of motion and relieve pain.

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