Recognizing the Signs of Tendonitis

The signs of tendonitis sneak up on you. They’re often mild at first and begin as an ache. Then they gradually get worse, coming and going, until the damage is so severe, you’re in for months of a painful recovery.

Andrew B. Richardson, MD, offers a full range of treatments to support your healing and recovery from tendonitis, but recognizing the signs makes it easier to seek help before your tendon suffers severe damage or completely ruptures.

Recognize the cause to prevent tendonitis symptoms

Tendonitis develops when a tendon becomes inflamed. You can prevent tendonitis when you know what activities that lead to the problem and then take the steps necessary to give your tendon time to heal.

You’re most likely to end up with tendon inflammation due to:

The most common cause by far is repeatedly performing the same movement, which ultimately causes an overuse injury. Overuse injuries frequently happen in sports, such as baseball, golf, tennis, running, and swimming.

But you can also develop the problem from occupational and everyday activities. For example, painters, gardeners, plumbers, carpenters, and construction workers all perform repetitive movements that put them at risk of developing tendonitis.

Common signs of tendonitis

Tendonitis causes three common symptoms.


The earliest sign of tendonitis is pain along the tendon and near the joint associated with that tendon. The pain is mild at first and then gradually worsens as the inflammation continues.

In most cases, the pain occurs when you’re active and feels better when you rest. But as tendonitis goes untreated and worsens, you may also experience pain when resting.

Inflammation and swelling

Tendon inflammation and a buildup of fluids cause swelling and tenderness. You may also develop skin redness and warmth in the area.

Joint sensations

Pain and inflammation may make the joint feel stiff. But you’re also likely to experience sensations like grating, snapping, or popping in the joint that’s attached to the injured tendon.

Specific signs depend on the type of tendonitis

The location of the inflamed tendon influences your symptoms. Here are a few of the most common types of tendonitis and their unique signs.

Jumper’s knee

Jumper’s knee, also called patellar tendonitis, causes an aching pain in the front of your knee. The pain is worse after sitting for a long time with your knees bent, when you move from sitting to standing, or when you’re walking uphill or climbing stairs.

Achilles tendonitis

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to your heel. As a result, heel pain is often the first sign of tendonitis. Most patients find that their heel pain is worse first thing in the morning and then feels better as they move around.

Rotator cuff tendonitis

If the tendons connected to the muscles in your rotator cuff are inflamed, you may feel a deep ache in your shoulder and pain when you use your arm. As the condition gets worse, you experience weakness and limited movement in your arm.

Tennis elbow

In addition to pain on the outer side of your elbow, this type of tendonitis is known for weakening your grip.

Getting the care you need

If you need treatment for tendonitis, we offer comprehensive care, beginning with activity modification, medications, and physical therapy. You may need to change your training routine, alternate your activities, or take short breaks at work if your repetitive movement is on the job.

We also offer platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, which accelerate healing, regulate inflammation, and help relieve your pain. Tendonitis usually improves with conservative therapies, but if the tendon ruptures, we may need to perform surgery to repair the tendon and restore optimal strength.

If you experience symptoms that hint at tendonitis, or you have any questions, don’t wait to call Andrew B. Richardson, MD, or book an appointment online, so you can start on the path to healing.

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