Tendonitis occurs when the movement of a tendon—the structure that connects the muscles to the bones—is impaired. Because the muscles and bones of the body must remain in motion for virtually every activity, the inaction of the tendon causes inflammation and pain.
Other symptoms of tendonitis include tenderness in the joints (especially when there is movement), swelling, and numbness and tingling. Stiffness causes further restriction of movement. Tendonitis is most frequently experienced in the shoulder, elbow, wrists, knees (also called jumper’s knee), and heels (Achilles tendonitis).
The most common causes of tendonitis include trauma or excessive strain. This can often be a problem for casual sports enthusiasts; sports injuries are often caused by a failure to properly ‘warm up’ or prepare the body for physical activity.
Other causes of tendonitis are related to regular, everyday overuse, such as the types of tendonitis experienced by massage therapists or musicians. People who work for long hours at a computer are also vulnerable to tendonitis.
Traditional medical treatments for tendonitis usually involve some form of pharmaceutical intervention. In particular, patients are often counseled to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain. Not only do NSAIDs cause gastrointestinal distress and kidney damage, they are also ineffective in the healing process. In some cases, affected tendons are injected with steroids, despite that there is little scientific basis for this method, and steroids (like all drugs) have serious side effects.