What is Tendonitis?
Tendonitis refers to the inflammation of a tendon, which is a band of fibrous connective tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone. Tendonitis can result from 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.
Who is at Risk of Tendonitis?
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 heel (Achilles tendonitis).
What are the Symptoms of 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.
Tendonitis Treatment & Management
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, physical therapy, and surgery may be considered if the symptoms of tendonitis persist and do not respond to the initial line of treatment. 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.
What is Bursitis?
Bursitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the bursae, which are tiny, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the various bones, tendons, and muscles near a joint.
Causes of Bursitis
Common causes of bursitis include:
- Sports-related activities
- Repetitive manual labor
- Kneeling for long periods of time
- Improper posture while sitting or standing
- Resting your elbows on hard surfaces for a long duration
- Hard blow to the joint
- Joint infection
- Inflammatory arthritis conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
Symptoms of Bursitis
Signs and symptoms of bursitis include:
- Joint pain
- Stiffness of the joint
- Increase in pain on touching or moving the affected area
Diagnosis of Bursitis
Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and based on this a physical examination of the joint will be performed. Diagnostic tests can include the following:
- Imaging tests: X-ray images are not much use in this condition as bursitis does not show up on x-ray images. However, x-rays can be used to rule out the presence of other conditions. Other imaging techniques like MRI and ultrasound may be used in some cases to confirm the presence of bursitis.
- Lab tests: In certain cases, you may be advised to get a blood test or a biopsy to ascertain the exact cause of bursitis.
Treatment for Bursitis
Bursitis can usually be treated with conservative measures such as rest, ice, taking over-the-counter pain-relieving medication, and relieving pressure on the affected area by using a walking cane or other assistive devices. If these measures fail, you might require:
- Prescription pain medications, corticosteroid drugs to reduce inflammation and swelling, and antibiotics to treat an infection
- Incision and drainage of the bursa to reduce swelling
- Surgical removal of the infected bursa may also be performed in severe cases
- Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that surround the joint
Prevention of Bursitis
The risk of developing bursitis can be reduced by:
- Taking frequent breaks when performing repetitive tasks
- Using knee pads when kneeling for long periods
- Lifting with proper body mechanics
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Regular exercise
- Warming up before starting strenuous activities
- Practicing good posture when sitting and standing