What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is a condition that affects the tendons, the connective tissue that attaches muscles and the skeletal system to each other.

Tendonitis is also known by the name tendinopathy. Tendonitis and tendinopathy are two names for the same condition, rather than being separate conditions.

Understanding Tendonitis

Tendons are made of strong cords of connective tissue. Tendonitis occurs when these tendons become inflamed and irritated as a result of tiny tears developing in the tendon. Usually, tendonitis is caused by repetitive motor movements, meaning tendonitis can be classified as an overuse injury.

Tendonitis can also be caused by a sudden injury, but that is rarer. Often, the best defense against tendonitis is to stop it before it occurs using preventative physical therapy.

Among the many activities that can cause tendonitis are common chores such as painting, scrubbing, raking, and gardening, as well as sports such as tennis, golf, skiing, and baseball. Any activity that involves jumping and running can be a problem. Poor technique in sports or weightlifting may result in tendonitis. Obesity is a risk factor. Overtraining often plays a role in tendonitis.

Tendonitis can affect many different parts of the body. However, the areas in which tendonitis is most likely to occur are the wrist, thumb, elbow, shoulder, heel, shin, knee, and hip.

In the areas affected, tendonitis is generally marked by symptoms such as swelling and pain. The pain is constant but dull, except in severe cases. Normal functioning is also usually degraded, and the joint will often be stiff and have reduced mobility. The surrounding muscle may also become weak.

Luckily, tendonitis rarely requires advanced medical attention. Most cases of tendonitis will eventually heal on their own. In the meantime, tendonitis sufferers are not without recourse. There are several ways to aid in the recovery from tendonitis.

A doctor putting a brace on a patient’s wrist to treat tendonitis


RICE is an acronym standing for rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Together, these four steps are the primary way to fix an overuse injury.

The first step of RICE tendonitis treatment is to allow rest. Attempting to fight through pain is foolish and risks further injury while slowing recovery. Fitness enthusiasts must find other ways to work out. Repeating the same motion that caused the problem in the first place will only make things worse.

Applying ice to the injured area reduces swelling, speeding recovery and healing. Placing a compression wrap around the affected area also serves to reduce swelling. Elevating the injured area above the waist level relieves pain and address inflammation as well.


Over-the-counter painkillers are useful for both treating the pain of tendonitis and for reducing swelling. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen that are designed to treat inflammation should be taken if needed.


Gently stretching out the spot affected by tendonitis is a key step toward recovery. While rest is an important aspect of healing tendonitis, immobilizing the affected area for too long actually slows recovery. Physical functioning (including strength) can also be lost with too must rest. Stretching is a way to ease back into normal activity. The best approach is to move gradually and to hold sustained stretches.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be useful for addressing cases of tendonitis that are slow to heal, are severe, or are reoccurring. If the habits that originally caused tendonitis are resumed, the problem will return. By analyzing the patient’s movements and the injury itself, a physical therapist can identify exactly which movements are causing the issue. They can then recommend modifications to form to correct the underlying problem.

Depending on where the tendonitis is located, physical therapists can aid in recovery by teaching specific exercises and stretches to help heal and even strengthen the affected area. A physical therapist may also manually assist patients in certain stretches or exercises.

For any further information on tendonitis or to schedule an appointment, please contact Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation at 570-208-2787 today.