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  • What is tendonitis?

    Tendonitis is an inflammatory (swelling) disease of the tendons. Tendons are tough but flexible bands of fibrous tissue that connect the muscles to the bones. If the tendon becomes swollen, it will become irritated by the action of the muscles and movement will be painful.

    Tendonitis can occur in any tendon in the body, especially in the ankle (Achilles or posterior tibia tendon), wrist, kneecap, elbow or shoulder.

  • Tendonitis is usually caused by injury, eg. sports injury or an overuse injury when running. Other causes include inflammatory diseases like reactive arthritis (formerly called Reiter’s syndrome) or rheumatoid arthritis.

    Tendon problems are most common in middle-aged people (40 – 60 years). At this age, the tendons are not as elastic as in a young person and are more likely to become injured.

  • All forms of tendonitis cause pain, swelling and tenderness in the area of the affected tendon. The onset may be rapid, such as with a sports injury.

    • Achilles tendonitis causes pain and swelling in the back of the heel.
    • Patellar (kneecap) tendonitis, also called jumper’s knee, causes the tendon in the knee to be inflamed and painful.
    • Posterior tibia tendonitis occurs near the Achilles tendon but is less common – symptoms are felt on the inner side of the ankle.
    • Rotator cuff tendonitis causes pain in the shoulder.
    • Tennis elbow causes pain on the outside of the elbow. Although it is commonly linked to people who play tennis, it can occur in people who perform other sports or repetitive activities using the wrist and elbow.
    • Wrist tendonitis can cause pain and swelling at the wrist.
  • Treatment of tendonitis involves resting the area, raising the affected limb and applying ice to reduce the swelling. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be given to ease the pain and reduce the swelling. In the case of severe swelling, a plaster cast may be applied to the affected part of the body.

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