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Tendonitis Symptoms: Here's What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Louise Nichole Logarta · Updated Feb 16, 2023

Tendonitis Symptoms: Here's What You Need to Know

What is Tendonitis and What are Its Symptoms?

Tendonitis, or tendinitis, is a condition that occurs when a tendon in our body becomes inflamed. It is a type of musculoskeletal injury where its symptoms primarily involve pain and tenderness of the affected joint. These mostly occurs in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and heels. The pain can either be short-term or long-term, and it can happen to anyone involved in repetitive activities.

This condition is often named after the affected joint and the activity that caused it. Examples include tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, swimmer’s shoulder and jumper’s knee. However, not all conditions follow this rule. Such as a well-known form of tendonitis called Achilles tendinitis. This affects the tendon of the Achilles’ heel, which particularly connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.

The pain and inconvenience caused by this condition can often be alleviated by resting and/or by using pain medications. However, more serious cases would require physical therapy.

Tendonitis’ Symptoms: Causes

Tendons are the fibrous rope-like cords consist of collagen which connect muscles to bones. Tendons, much like most tissues in our body, have blood vessels in them which are responsible for the tendon’s health and repair. When a muscle contracts, it pulls on the tendon, which in turn moves the bone it is attached to.

People who has activities involving repetitive movements are at a higher risk of acquiring tendonitis. Repetitive movements use the same set of muscles, tendons and bones which give the tendons constant and consistent type of stress. It can also occur after having injuries while engaging in sports. Hence, it is important to master the proper techniques of any workout or sport.

Unattended tendonitis may develop into tendon rupture. If this happens, the patient will need to undergo surgery for treatment.

Tendinosis, meanwhile, is the degeneration of the tendon’s collagen in response to chronic overuse. It can develop over weeks or months.

Tendonitis’ Symptoms: What to Watch Out For

Tendonitis symptoms include:

  • Dull pain
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling near or at the joint, especially when moving
  • Risks and Complications

    Some factors make some people more at risk of developing tendonitis:

    Regularly engages in physical activities with repetitive motions

    The risk is higher for people engaging in activities such as gardening, woodworking, shoveling, scrubbing, working out, and even painting (due to the wrist movement).

    Bad posture

    People with poor posture may also experience tendonitis. Bad posture strains the muscles or ligaments while moving, or completing weight-bearing activities. This contributes to the wearing out of joint surfaces.

    Muscle disease

    Tendonitis can also happen to people who are afflicted with diseases affecting the muscles and bones. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and pseudogout directly affects the joint and joint surfaces through inflammation.


    Age is also another factor—as people age, the integrity of their cells and tissues weakens. Those 40 years old and above are more prone to tendonitis as their tendons cannot handle as much stress. They also lose their elasticity, making them more prone to tears.


    Some drugs, though rarely, can cause tendonitis. Such drugs include fluoroquinolone antibiotics like ciprofloxacin and norfloxacin.

    Tendonitis: Treatment

    The primary treatment includes rest and cold compress. The patient may also take over-the-counter pain medications.

    If the tendonitis is more serious, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids to address the inflammation. They may also suggest physical therapy to improve your range of motion. In some cases, you may also use a splint to immobilize the joint or bone if needed.


    To avoid tendonitis, you may opt to do the following:

    • Move every so often to not remain in the same position for a very long time
    • Improve your posture
    • Practice proper techniques and forms when engaging in sports or exercise
    • Consider switching to activities that do not put pressure on the joints
    • Stretch to relax tight tissues
    • Improve workplace ergonomics such that your chair, computer keyboard, and desk are at your height and arm length.

    Key takeaway

    Tendonitis is an inflammation of a tendon, the tissue which attaches muscles to the bone. Repetitive activities or injuries may cause tendonitis. Tendonitis’ symptoms include swelling, pain and tenderness near or at the joint. Tendonitis is more likely to happen in older individuals and those who engage in activities that stress or strain the muscles or joints. In most cases, rest, cold compress, and pain medications are enough as treatment. In more serious cases, you may need steroids, physical therapy, or even surgery.

    Learn about Musculoskeletal Pain here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Louise Nichole Logarta · Updated Feb 16, 2023

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