Tendonitis is a painful condition that affects millions of Americans each year. It is an inflammation of the connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone. The most common symptoms of tendonitis are pain, tenderness and limited range of motion.
Every time a muscle contracts it places stress on the tendons. Too much stress placed on these tendons causes inflammation and tendonitis. Events that often trigger tendonitis include excessive repetitive motions, poor biomechanics, over-working muscles and strength imbalances between opposing muscle groups.
Some areas of the body are more prone to tendonitis than others. Biceps tendonitis affects the tendons that attach the biceps in the front of the shoulder or at the front of the elbow.
Supraspinatus tendonitis is felt at the tip or outer portion of the shoulder. Often referred to as “swimmer’s shoulder,” it is caused by repetitive overhead movements. Triceps tendonitis occurs at the back of the arm, above the tip of the elbow. Throwing motions, hammering, or jarring movements are often the cause.
Lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” affects the outer portion of the elbow. Racquet sports or movements that bend the wrist back are frequently the cause. Medial epicondylitis causes pain on the inner portion of the elbow. It is generally referred to as “golfer’s elbow” and is caused by movements that twist or bend the wrist. Wrist tendonitis is felt at the base of the thumb. Rotating the hand in a handshake motion causes this pain.
Patellar tendonitis occurs in the area above or directly below the kneecap. Jumping or bending the knee causes and aggravates this tendonitis. If you are experiencing tendonitis that is mild to moderate, you may still be able to keep up with your regular workout schedule. Before starting your workout, make sure you warm up well and gently stretch the affected area. Consider trying new movements that don’t place as much stress on the area of pain.
It might be helpful to brace or wrap the area to provide some additional support. After the workout, ice the area to help reduce inflammation. Supplements can also help prevent and eliminate tendonitis. Fish oil is an anti-inflammatory that has healing properties. Glucosamine sulfate helps support tissue integrity. Magnesium reduces muscle tension. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) helps repair connective tissue And vitamin C promotes healthy collagen which repairs damaged tendons.
Tendonitis pain generally goes away within a few weeks. You may be able to speed the recovery process using the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method. If the pain is intense or persists, consider seeing a health care professional.
Remember that having good muscle and tendon strength helps prevent tendonitis so make sure you’re working out regularly and staying healthy and strong. If you’re one of the millions affected by tendonitis, try these tips to help you get rid of the pain and prevent a reoccurrence in the future.
Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of the Los Alamos Fitness Center. If you have any questions about the information or exercises in this column, call him at 505.662.5232.