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Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons and bursae of the joints. Muscles and tendons power the joints, allowing us to move. The bursae are sac-like fluid filled structures that allow the tissue structures, to glide smoothly against each other. Healthy tendon function is dependent on stability and flexibility. Tendons and bursae are located near joints therefore inflammation in these tissues will often be perceived as joint pain and mistaken for arthritis. The symptoms are similar: pain and stiffness made worse by movement. Pain may be worse at night. Although tendonitis is usually a temporary condition, it has the potential to become a chronic problem. Tendonitis affects the old and young alike. Approximately 6% of us are affected by it at any given time.
Caused by either repetitive arm & shoulder motions, or just age, the tendons, muscles, and surrounding structures become irritated and wear down. If the rotator cuff and bursa are irritated, inflamed and swollen, they may become squeezed between the head of the humerus and the acromion.
Achilles tendonitis involves the large tendon at the back of the ankle. The Achilles Tendon connects the large calf muscles (Gastrocnemius and Soleus) to the heal bone (calcaneus). It has a poor blood supply resulting in a slower healing time. This tendon can become inflamed through overuse, and also by many other contributing factors. An estimated 11% of all running injuries are due to Achilles tendonitis.
Patellar tendonitis or “jumper’s knee” is a condition that results from overuse of the knee. The Patellar tendon is a structure that attaches the quadriceps muscle to the tibia (shin bone). The patella (knee cap) is a sesamoid (floating bone) that is a part of the patellar tendon. It is believed that since the patellar tendon or patellar ligament connects the patella to the tibia, it should be classified as a ligament. Ligaments connect bone to bone while tendons connect muscles to bone.
The following symptoms may indicate that you have one of the above types of tendonitis:
- Pain, stiffness and swelling of the affected area
- Pain that is increases in the at night
- Restricted movement in the area surrounding the injury
- Pain that is usually worse after movement of the affected area
If you have been diagnosed with any type of tendonitis, your treatment will depend on the specific cause and nature of the condition. Common treatments start with rest and immobilization of the affected area. Medication to control pain is sometimes necessary.