4 Most Common Tendonitis Symptoms (& What to Do)

Updated in December 2023

Tendonitis symptoms, like localized pain, difficulty moving the affected extremities, swelling or redness in the area can emerge on any area of the body. This condition most commonly affects the hands, shoulders, elbows, knees, and elbows. It is characterized by inflammation of a tendon, which is a structure that connects the muscles to the bones. 

This inflammation can occur due to stiffening of a tendon, due to normal aging or injury, as well as repetitive movements, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, Tendonitis can also emerge due to using medications like levofloxacin or ciprofloxacin. 

Tendonitis should be treated by an orthopedic surgeon, who may prescribe analgesics, anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy or even surgery ot prevent complications like muscular atrophy or a tendon rupture. It is important to rest the affected area to rest so that it can fully heal.

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Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of tendonitis are:

1. Localized pain

Localized pain is a common symptom of tendonitis, and can especially be felt when moving the affected extremity or joint. The pain may radiate to the muscles surrounding the tendon. 

Generally, pain is described as sharp and is accompanied by a sensation that the tendon is clicking or grinding as it moves. 

What to do: Apply a cold compress to the affected are 3 to 4 times per day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. This helps to reduce blood flow to the area to reduce pain. You can lightly massage the area for a minute or two with anti-inflammatory ointments, 2 to 3 times per day. You should consult an orthopedic surgeon, who may prescribe analgesics or anti-inflammatories to help with pain management. 

2. Difficulty moving

Restrictions with moving depend on the area affected, as tendinitis in the legs can interfere with standing up or walking, while tendinitis in the arms can interfere with holding objects or lifting your hands above your head. Difficulty moving is usually a result of pain in the area, or excessive swelling that limits range of motion. 

What to do: Rest the affected area and avoid activities that may cause more pain. You should participate in physiotherapy and perform strengthening and stretching exercises as prescribed by a physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist may use electrotherapy equipment to speed up healing and improve movement. 

3. Swelling or redness

Redness or swelling in the affected area occurs due to the release of inflammatory substances from the injured tendon, like prostaglandins and cytokines. This causes blood vessels to dilate and increases fluid accumulation in the muscles and around the tendon. 

What to do: Apply a cold compress to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times per day. The coldness helps to reduce blood vessel dilation, which can relieve swelling and redness. It is important to consult an orthopedic surgeon, who may prescribe anti-inflammatories, like naproxen or ibuprofen, as well as corticosteroid injections or even surgery to remove severely swollen tissue. You can also treat mild swelling with home remedies like ginger tea or anise tea, which contain anti-inflammatory properties. 

4. Increased weakness

In some cases, patients may report weakness in the affected area, especially if the tendinitis is chronic or chronic. This can cause muscle atrophy around the tendon, which can make day-to-day activities, like doing chores, taking a bath or going up stairs, more difficult. 

What to do: Participating in physiotherapy and performing strengthening and stretching exercises as prescribed by a physiotherapy can help to recover muscle strength and tonus. An orthopedic surgeon may order surgery to repair severely injured tendons to recover lost strength. 

Confirming a diagnosis

A tendonitis diagnosis should be confirmed by an orthopedic surgeon through a physical assessment and by observing movements and testing sensitivity in the area. The doctor may order imaging tests, like an x-ray, ultrasound or MRI, to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, like bursitis.