Tendons are the portion of muscle that physically attaches to bone. These tendons are most often seen on either end of a muscle, and are thicker, and less elastic, than muscle tissue. Tendonitis, meaning inflammation of a tendon (the suffix “itis” means “inflammation”), is a type of injury often confused with the more common tendinosis, which has similar symptoms but requires different treatment. The term tendonitis should be reserved for tendon injuries that involve acute injuries accompanied by inflammation.
Symptoms can vary from a muscular aches or pains, or a burning that surrounds the whole joint around the inflamed tendon. With this condition, the pain is usually worse during and after activity, and the tendon and joint area can become stiffer the following day as swelling limits the movement of the tendon. This issue can persist for several weeks, or even months in some cases. When this occurs, you may notice persistent inflammation. This condition is known as tendinosis.
Typically, use of anti-inflammatory medication, combined with rest, orthotics/braces, and gradual return to exercise is a common therapy. Initial recovery is typically within 2 to 3 days and full recovery is within 4 to 6 weeks. As tendinosis is more common than tendonitis, and has similar symptoms, tendonitis is often initially treated the same as tendinosis would be. This helps reduce some of the chronic long-term risks of tendinosis, which takes longer to heal.