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Tendons are bands of fibrous connective tissue that attach muscles to bones. Injury to a tendon can result in tendonitis or inflammation of a tendon. This is usually due to repetitive or overuse injuries and can occur during activities such as gardening, carpentry, shoveling, painting, scrubbing, tennis, golfing, skiing, and pitching. People with poor posture or those who avoid stretching before exercise are at a higher risk of developing tendonitis. Tendonitis can also affect individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders, infections or an unusual medication reaction.

Tendonitis can affect individuals of any age but is more common in adults over the age of 40 years, as tendons lose their strength and elasticity with age, and become susceptible to tear. Tendonitis can affect any tendon; however, it commonly involves the shoulder, elbow, base of the thumb, hip, knee and the heel (Achilles tendonitis).

The predominant symptom is pain at the site of the injured tendon. The pain may occur suddenly or develop gradually and may be severe. The motility of the joint, close to the affected tendon, may also be affected.

The initial treatment of tendonitis includes rest, avoiding activities that worsen the condition, application of ice to the affected area, and anti-inflammatory medications. Corticosteroid injections and physical therapy may be recommended if symptoms persist.

New treatments for muscle injuries include platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy. These preparations are derived from your blood and injected at the site of the injury. They contain stem cells and growth factors that help regenerate and heal tissues quicker and with minimal scar tissue. These regenerative medicine treatments have shown a lot of success though more evidence is necessary.

Surgery may be considered if the symptoms of tendonitis are severe and do not respond to the above treatments. Depending on the severity of the damage, the healing period may vary from a few weeks to months. To decrease your chance of developing tendonitis, avoid repetitive movements; stop any activity that causes pain, and gradually increase your activity levels.

Contact your doctor immediately if you have fever, swelling, redness and warmth to the area, multiple sites of pain, or lack of ability to move the involved area.