How to Treat Tendinitis

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An example of how the tendon connects to the bone
An example of how the tendon connects to the bone (Image: seattletimes.nwsource.com/)

Tendinitis is a painful condition often associated with exercise or sports. However, it can affect people who aren’t exercising regularly. Tendons are fibrous tissues that attach the bones to the muscles that help control movement. Tendinitis is an irritation of this fibrous tissue that often results in restricted movement, pain upon touching the area, burning sensation at the site, or swelling or redness.Tendinitis is no picnic. It’s an injury that requires a lot of care and patience to allow time for healing. The common areas where tendinitis occurs are: Achilles tendons (back of ankle), knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows. More often than not, tendinitis is caused by a strain to the tendon although lack of flexibility and injury can cause or aggravate the condition.

Things You'll Need

  • Heating pad
  • Ice Pack (with a towel between the pack and your skin)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Epsom salts
  • Brace (if necessary)
  • Ace bandage (if necessary)

Consult with your doctor. Tendinitis is painful but so are many other injuries. You want to make sure you’re treating the correct injury rather than delaying the treatment of a more serious condition.

Stop all activity. You will very likely aggravate your tendinitis if you resume exercising. There’s no need to make a bad situation worse. Give yourself and your injured tendon a break until you’re pain free again. Many sports injury specialists recommend taking three weeks off to heal the injured tendon.

Apply an ice pack to your tendinitis for five minutes at a time, every 15 to 20 minutes for the first hour. Then you can back off to 5 to 10 minutes every three to four hours. The first 24 hours are crucial to healing your sore tendons. Ice will soothe the immediate pain. However, you shouldn’t ice the tendinitis past the first 24 to 72 hours.

Take a few Ibuprofen to help reduce swelling and ease discomfort. Many tendinitis sufferers complain that the pain is much worse at night or upon waking in the morning. You might want to tailor your pain reliever doses to help you sleep. Remember to take the correct dose of Ibuprofen.

Elevate the injury above your heart to ease some of the soreness. You don’t have to raise your sore appendage very high. You should feel some relief immediately. Some people prefer to wrap their injury in an ace bandage to help reduce the swelling. This isn’t necessary but it might help ease some of the pain. Make sure not to wrap the injury too tightly.

Soak in a warm bath. Heat has a wonderful healing property. Pour the Epsom salts into the tub as it’s filling and soak for 30 minutes. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate that helps replace lost magnesium in the body.

Apply a heating pad to your sore tendon. Try 30 minutes of heat every four to six hours after the initial 24 to 72 hours of icing.

Massage helps stimulate the blood flow in and around the affected muscle. Use your own hands and gently rub the affected area after soaking in the tub or applying the heating pad.

Resume light exercise slowly. Don’ push yourself immediately right back into full exercise mode as soon as your injured tendon heals. Go slowly. Begin with stretching for a few days, then add a light workout. Gradually increase your intensity level until you feel comfortable returning to your regular activity.

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