What Is Tendonitis, How Is It Best Treated And How Do I Prevent It From Returning?

Question: What is tendonitis, how is it best treated and how do I prevent it from returning?

Answer: Tendonitis is an overuse injury of the ropelike structure that connects our muscles to our bones. That's what a tendon is. It occurs most commonly in those muscles that cross two joints. The common examples being tennis elbow, in which the forearm muscle crosses both the elbow and the wrist, or a calf muscle, in which the muscle crosses both the knee and the ankle joint, resulting in Achilles tendonitis.

The best way to prevent tendonitis is to work on flexibility and strength of those involved muscles. Hence, when we talk about tendonitis, the factors that predispose that muscle to injury would be inflexibility or tight muscles as well as a poorly conditioned or weak muscle.

When treating tendonitis, we start with the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression -- a sleeve or a wrap -- and elevation of the injured tendon or joint. That's a good place to start. Once that inflammation -- the pain, the swelling -- has settled down, oftentimes in three or four days after the injury, then we can work on rehabilitating that muscle and that tendon, and we focus again on flexibility, stretching the muscle, as well as then strengthening and conditioning the muscle, oftentimes in hopes of preventing the tendonitis from recurring.