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Tendonitis is the swelling and irritation of a tendon, the sinewy structure that connects muscle to bone. Tendonitis is caused by an injury or overuse (doing the same movement over and over, as when playing a sport). Long-term inflammation of a tendon can lead to more serious injury, such as a rupture.

Areas most commonly affected include the following:

  • The elbow (“tennis elbow”)
  • Knee ("jumper's knee")
  • Achilles tendon in the heel
  • Shoulder
  • Wrist

Anyone can get tendonitis, but it’s more common in adults who play sports that involve repetitive movements. Older adults are also more at risk for tendonitis because tendons lose their flexibility and become weaker with age.

Tendonitis: what you should know

  • Symptoms include pain and tenderness along the tendon, usually near the joint, and swelling.
  • Sports medicine specialists at Rush were among the first in the Midwest to use an innovative biologic therapy called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to treat tendonitis and certain muscle and ligament injuries. PRP injections are used to help reduce pain and enhance the body’s ability to heal after an injury or surgery.
  • To help prevent tendonitis, avoid repetitive motion and overuse of your arms and legs, keep all of your muscles strong and flexible, and always warm up before exercising.

Tendonitis treatment at Rush

See your doctor or a primary care sports medicine doctor if you have these symptoms:

  • Pain and tenderness along the tendon that worsens with movement or activity
  • Hot, red skin over the injured area
  • Swelling
  • A lump on the tendon

There are specific tests for specific tendons. These tests will determine whether your pain is due to tendonitis or another condition.

To bring down the swelling and relieve pain, your doctor or a primary care sports medicine doctor may recommend the following:

  • Resting and immobilizing the tendon, possibly with a brace or use of crutches
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the tendon and muscles, aid recovery and help prevent future injury
  • Occupational therapy to help reduce pain and swelling, improving your ability to do everyday tasks

In extremely rare cases, or if the tendon ruptures, surgery may be necessary. If so, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon at Rush.

Why choose Rush for tendonitis care?

  • The orthopedics program at Rush is consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
  • As team physicians for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox and many other teams, orthopedic surgeons at Rush are experts at diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating sports injuries in athletes — from Little Leaguers to the pros.
  • The Orthopedic Building gives patients one convenient place to go for orthopedic care. You can see an orthopedic specialist, get your imaging tests, have outpatient procedures and go through rehabilitation — all under one roof.

Departments and programs that treat this condition