What Is Tendinitis?


Tendinitis, or tendonitis, is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon. Tendons are thick fibrous cords that attach muscles and bones. Tendinitis is either acute or chronic and can develop in any tendon. The affected joint may become difficult to move.

Tendinitis typically presents with pain and tenderness in the affected area. It most commonly occurs in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, heels or knees. Other common names for tendinitis (according to the specific area of the body affected) include jumper’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, swimmer’s shoulder and pitcher’s shoulder.

Most cases of tendinitis can be treated with rest, medications, and physical therapy; however, in severe cases, especially if the tendon has ruptured, surgery may be required.


Tendinitis pain is typically dull and achy around the affected joint. The pain may increase with movement, and the affected area is often quite tender to touch. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Gradually increasing pain or sudden, increased pain if calcium deposits develop
  • Tightness and swelling in the affected area
  • Loss of motion (e.g., “frozen shoulder”)

When symptoms of tendinitis first occur, resting and icing the affected area is recommended. If symptoms do not improve within a few days, a health care professional should be consulted.

Causes and risk factors

Injuries or frequent repetition of the same motion while working or playing sports are the most common causes of tendinitis.

Factors that increase the likelihood of developing tendinitis include the following:

  • Jobs requiring repetitive motions, such as using tools that vibrate, frequent overhead reaching or lifting, forceful physical exertion, or awkward body positions
  • Activities requiring repetitive motions, such as shoveling, painting, scrubbing, landscaping or carpentry
  • Athletic activities, such as baseball, basketball, bowling, running, swimming, tennis or golf
  • 40 year of age or older
  • Poor posture
  • Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and blood or kidney disease
  • Use of certain medications, such as fluoroquinolone antibiotics or statins (cholesterol lowering medications)
Did you find this helpful?
You may also like