Tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon – any one of the thick fibrous cords that attaches muscle to bone. The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint. While tendonitis can occur in any of your body’s tendons, it’s most common around your shoulders, elbows, wrists and heels.
Some common names for various tendinitis problems are:
- Tennis elbow; lateral epicondylitis
- Golfer’s elbow; medial epicondylitis
- Pitcher’s shoulder; rotator cuff tendonitis
- Jumper’s knee; patellar tendonitis
If tendonitis is severe and leads to the rupture of a tendon, you may need surgical repair. But most cases of tendonitis can be successfully treated with rest, physical therapy and medications to reduce pain.
Bursitis (bur-SY-tis) is a painful condition that affects the small fluid-filled pads – called bursae (bur-SEE) – that act as lubricating cushions among your bones and the tendons and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed from impingement or overuse.
The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow and hip. But you can also have bursitis in your knee, heel and the base of your big toe. Bursitis often occurs near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion.
Treatment typically involves resting the affected joint and protecting it from further trauma. In most cases, bursitis pain can be resolved within a few weeks with medication and/or physical therapy treatment, but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are common, requiring additional therapy and/or steroid injections by your physician.
Knee bursitis is inflammation of a bursa located in your knee joint. Each of your knees has 11 bursae. While any of these bursae can become inflamed, knee bursitis most commonly occurs over/under the kneecap [patella] or on the inner side of your knee below the joint [pes anserine]. Knee bursitis causes pain and can limit your mobility. Treatment for knee bursitis often includes a combination of self-care activity modification, physical therapy treatments to alleviate pain and inflammation. In resistant cases, medications and injections may be recommended by your physician.
Water on the Knee
Water on the knee is a general term for excess fluid accumulation in or around your knee joint. Your doctor may refer to this condition as an effusion (uh-FU-zhun) in your knee joint.
Water on the knee may be the result of trauma, overuse injuries, or an underlying disease or condition. To determine the cause of water on the knee, your doctor may need to obtain a sample of the fluid to test for infection, disease or injury. Removing some of the fluid also helps reduce the pain and stiffness associated with water on the knee. Once your doctor determines the underlying cause of your water on the knee, appropriate treatment can begin; usually medications and physical therapy.
Patellar tendonitis is an injury that affects the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. The patellar tendon plays a pivotal role in the way you use your leg muscles. It helps your muscles extend your knee so that you can kick a ball, run uphill and jump up in the air.
Patellar tendonitis is most common in athletes whose sports involve frequent jumping – such as basketball and volleyball. For this reason, patellar tendonitis is commonly known as jumper’s knee. However, even people who don’t participate in jumping sports can experience patellar tendinitis.
For most people, treatment of patellar tendinitis begins with physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles (uh-KIL-eez) tendon, the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone. Achilles tendonitis most commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs. It’s also common in middle-aged people who play sports, such as tennis or basketball, only on the weekends.
Most cases of Achilles tendonitis can be treated with relatively simple, at-home, self-care strategies to prevent recurring episodes. More-serious or recurrent cases of Achilles tendonitis can lead to tendon tears (ruptures) that may require surgical repair. Physical therapy in the early stages can often promote healing and restore proper function of the tendon, avoiding these complications.
In trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis), one of your fingers or your thumb gets stuck in a bent position and then straightens with a snap – like a trigger being pulled and released. Often painful, the trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are more susceptible. If a trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position. Trigger finger is also more common in women and in anyone with diabetes. Treatment of trigger finger varies depending on the severity; physical therapy to reduce local inflammation and manual therapeutics to improve the flexibility and tendon gliding mechanism; severe or resistant cases may require steroid injection by your physician.
Tennis elbow is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overworked, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. Despite its name, most cases of tennis elbow occur in people who don’t play tennis. People whose jobs feature the types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow include plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers.
The pain of tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist. Rest, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy often help relieve tennis elbow. If conservative treatments don’t help or if symptoms are disabling, your physician might suggest injections or evaluate for surgery.
The pain of tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony prominence on the outside of your elbow. The pain may result from tiny tears in the tendon.
Golfer’s elbow is a condition that causes pain on the inner side of your elbow, where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. The pain may spread into your forearm and wrist. Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow. But it occurs on the inside, rather than the outside, of your elbow and it’s not limited to golfers. Tennis players and others who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers also can develop golfer’s elbow.
Rest, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy often help relieve golfer’s elbow and help you can get back into the swing of things. If conservative treatments don’t help or if symptoms are disabling, your physician might suggest injections or evaluate for surgery.