Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons. It causes pain, swelling and stiffness and is usually as a result of repetitive movements from exercise. 

  1. Careful treatment will lead to a full recovery in around 3 months
  2. Most commonly occurs in the achilles or the elbow
  3. Treatment consists mostly of pain relief and rest

If you have symptoms of tendonitis and would like to speak to a doctor, you can book an appointment through our private online video consultation service. They will be able to advise you about techniques you can implement to ensure a full recovery.

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What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons, usually caused by exercise, and results in symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness. It's common amongst athletes, but can happen to anyone. People who often participate in recreational sports are more susceptible to it.

What causes tendonitis?

Most tendonitis occurs as a result of gradual wear and tear of the tendon over time. Tendons can withstand a repetitive load on them; however, if this becomes too much, or if there is a continuous strain on them, the tendons may become stressed, and micro tears can develop. This increases the production of inflammatory chemicals and blood flow, which causes redness, pain and swelling of the tendons. Usually, the micro tears heal with sufficient rest. 

Besides too much strenuous exercise, tendonitis can occur naturally from ageing, or simply due to someone’s genetic makeup. For example, one leg may be shorter than the other, which can make the ankle unstable, and therefore make tendonitis more likely to occur. Furthermore, external factors, such as an increased training regime, training on a different surface, or using equipment inappropriately, can also lead to tendonitis.

Can tendonitis lead to any complications?

In terms of complications, tendonitis will not usually result in any serious conditions. However, it can impact on a person’s daily life, as normal routines may become more difficult, and it can lead to having to take time off work. If a case of tendonitis doesn't fully heal, it can lead to a ruptured tendon, which causes a far more significant loss of function. That being said, tendonitis should heal effectively provided that adequate rest is taken. According to a study referenced on NICE guidelines, 84% of those who had experienced achilles tendinopathy (the general term for tendon disease) returned to their normal level of activity following a sufficient recovery period.

If you would like to speak to a doctor about tendonitis, you can do so by booking an appointment through our private online video consultation service. Our UK doctors can speak to you at a time that’s suitable for you. They can advise you on treatment and how long you will need to rest before starting to use the tendon again. They can also refer you to a physiotherapist where required for a more in-depth exercise schedule.

Page last reviewed:  12/06/2020
Diagnosis and treatment

How is tendonitis diagnosed?

A doctor can normally diagnose tendonitis by asking questions about the nature of the pain complaint and examining the affected area. They may ask whether intermittent pain has been experienced, and whether it is worse in the morning. They will look for swelling and tenderness of the tendon and might ask you to perform some movements to assess how it is functioning.

Will I need tests?

Aside from being asked to perform some basic movements to assess the severity of the pain and function of the tendon, no further tests are necessary.

What will a doctor normally advise?

A doctor will normally advise you to follow a simple routine to ease the pain. Rest is recommended, as well as ceasing any physical activity which may have caused tendonitis. Ice packs, with the optional addition of a compress, may also be advised, to help support the tendon. Paracetamol for pain relief can help, and it’s possible that you’ll be referred to a physiotherapist, who is able to provide further exercises to help enable the tendon to gradually carry more weight. 

What treatments are there for tendonitis?

Treatments for tendonitis mostly consist of reducing inflammation and allowing the tendon to recover. Physical exercise that directly affects the tendon should be avoided, as should bearing too much weight. The best course of treatment involves resting, using ice packs, compresses and pain killers where necessary, to allow for a full recovery.

Page last reviewed:  12/06/2020
Questions and Answers

How is tendonitis treated?

In most cases, a doctor will advise lots of rest, applying an ice pack to the affected tendon, using a compress to support it and taking pain killers if the pain is severe.

What treatments are there?

Treatments for tendonitis focus on ensuring that the tendon is allowed to fully recover, and do not involve any medication in most cases. If ice and a compress are consistently applied to the tendon, and exercise is avoided, a full recovery is very likely. 

Can I consult a doctor about tendonitis online?

Yes. If you book an appointment through our service, you will be able to speak to a doctor using our private online video consultation. One of our UK doctors can issue advice on good practices for managing tendonitis, and may refer you to a physiotherapist, should you need someone to help you manage the pain better and make a full recovery.

Page last reviewed:  12/06/2020

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