You don’t have to be an athlete to get tendonitis – the condition that causes inflammation of a tendon.
It can occur at any age, in any gender, and usually results from doing repetitive motions over time, which puts strain on the tendon.
Homemakers often get it as they are repeatedly cooking, mopping, gardening, painting or taking care of household matters.
Truck and taxi drivers, especially those using manual gears, are another category of people who are prone to tendonitis.
All that climbing in and out of their car, truck or van, using the clutch pedal and sitting for prolonged periods of time with their knee flexed can strain certain tendons.
Tendonitis can also happen due to ill-fitted shoes or apparel, and from doing nothing.
Sitting in an improper posture for hours, landing awkwardly from a fall, or a sudden, sharp movement, such as lifting a heavy luggage or yanking something forcefully, can also cause tendonitis.
A brief anatomy lesson: A tendon is a connective tissue that attaches muscle to the bone. It is flexible, tough, fibrous and can withstand tension.
A ligament connects bone to bone at a joint, while a tendon connects muscle to bone.
Tendonitis leads to pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted mobility at the affected joint.
The pain can come gradually, building up over time. Or it can be sudden and severe.
Often referred to as a type of overuse injury, the tendon is repeatedly strained or overloaded until tiny tears form.
While tendonitis can occur in any of your tendons, it’s most common around your shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and heels.
These are referred to as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, swimmer’s shoulder and jumper’s knee – named after the sport that causes the condition.
According to information provided by the Australian state of Victoria’s Department of Health & Human Services, tendonitis can also be caused by:
• Calcium deposit along the tendon at the site of insertion.
• Bone spurs on the heels.
• Any sporting activity that requires lots of jumping and running.
• Running on hard surfaces.
• Poor technique, such as holding a tennis racquet or golf club incorrectly.
• Inappropriate sporting equipment, such as a tennis racquet that’s too heavy.
• Lifting weights that are too heavy.
• Neglecting to warm up properly prior to sport or exercise.
• Extreme and regular physical effort, such as an intensive sports training schedule.
• Not taking enough time between training sessions to allow full recovery.
• Exercising in cold temperatures.
• Awkward positions that are maintained for a long time.
• Being obese, which puts excessive pressure on the tendons of the legs.
To reduce your chances of getting tendonitis, make sure you warm up and cool down before embarking on your activity.
Stretching is another important factor post-exercise. Take time to stretch in order to maximise the range of motion of your joints, especially when the muscles are warmed up.
This can help to minimise repetitive trauma on tight tissues.
Bad postural habits are difficult, but not impossible to correct.
Sometimes, we do things on the spur of the moment and the tendon suffers. Many adults, who play recreational racquet games or futsal, never warm up.
The concept is alien to them and they tell me it’s a waste of time. They hit the courts and start playing only to suffer later.
Always prepare your muscles to play. Try to strengthen the muscles used in your activity or sport to help them better withstand stress and load.
There’s nothing much to worry if you are afflicted with tendonitis – it is a temporary condition and should go away on its own with icing, proper rest and pain-relieving medication, if necessary.
As hard as it might be, don’t do anything that might trigger the pain.
A lot of conditions may have similar symptoms as tendonitis, including arthritis or infection, so seek medical advice if your symptoms persist despite medications and care.
Most cases of tendonitis recover completely without the need for any medical intervention; however, severe untreated tendonitis can lead to rupture of the tendon.
If your symptoms fail to improve after one or two weeks of self-care, or if the pain is crippling, head to the doctor’s.
If tendon irritation continues for several weeks or months (i.e. turns chronic), a condition known as tendinosis may develop.
This condition involves degenerative changes in the tendon, along with abnormal new blood vessel growth. It can take months to treat, and the damage to the tendon can sometimes be permanent.
You don’t want that.