Understanding Tendinitis

Have been sidelined from your passions by pain and stiffness? Tendinitis may be the culprit.

Repetitive movements, such as lifting, kicking, bending or jumping, can cause overuse injuries, which account for up to 7% of all physician visits3. Overuse and straining of the joints can bring about tendinopathies, which happen when the tendon becomes injured. The human body has over 4,000 tendons that connect muscles to bones and these tendons are responsible in limiting muscle damage by taking on forces placed on the body2. When the tendon takes on too much force, it can become aggravated and cause damage, both short and long term.

You may be familiar with the condition, tendinitis, which is an example of a tendinopathy, or a tendon injury. Tendinitis occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed, making movement painful. Areas often affected with tendon pain1,3 include the elbows, shoulders, hands, wrists, knees, and ankles. People who regularly put stress around the same tendons are more at risk, which is often seen in sports and work-related injuries. However, any activity done for an excessive amount of time could result in this form of injury! Tendon injuries can happen to anyone- young or old; active or inactive!

In addition to overuse, additional risk factors for tendinopathies can include:

  • Arthritis in a joint
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Improper training surfaces
  • Obesity
  • Poor body mechanics

How do you know if tendons are the cause of your discomfort? Ongoing pain during repetitive movements, muscle stiffness, and decreased strength are all symptoms of tendinopathies. In the case of a more chronic injury, there tends to be less inflammation present and more structural change in the tendon, resulting in pain.

Be mindful during your daily routine if you start to experience pain, weakness, or muscle tightness. Rest, icing, and stretching can help control initial symptoms if you have been experiencing pain. If pain persists, take a pause from activities triggering the pain and schedule an appointment with your doctor. Without proper treatment, a short-term injury can often result in a more chronic condition, potentially even leading to a tendon rupture requiring surgical repair.

Outpatient physical therapy can be powerful treatment option in treating tendonitis. At Penn Therapy & Fitness, our physical therapists can offer several evidence-based options for treating both acute and chronic tendinopathies. During care, emphasis is also placed on injury prevention strategies while providing education of best practices to managing pain and symptoms outside of the gym.

Your Penn Therapy & Fitness therapist will work with you to develop a rehabilitation plan that’s right for you, including:

  • Bracing/Taping
  • Education about activity modification
  • Manual therapies
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching and range of motion exercises to regain flexibility
  • Therapeutic pain management

In addition to treating the immediate pain, the movement specialists at Penn Therapy & Fitness are trained to help figure out why your pain occurred, and how to prevent re-injury. They are trained in activity modification and mechanical analysis to help correct mechanical flaws in your activities, movements, or sports that may be contributing to your pain.

Don’t let pain sideline your plans! Click here to find a Penn Therapy & Fitness most convenient to you!

About the Blogger

Matt Mules, DPT is an orthopedic and sport medicine therapist at Penn Therapy & Fitness. He received his doctorate in Physical Therapy from Drexel University in 2012. Matt was instrumental in the development of the Alter-G Anti-Gravity treadmill program at Rittenhouse, and continues to implement this technology in the recovery program of patients recovering from running injuries. He brings knowledge and experience to this practice, especially for recreational, collegiate, and professional athletes and he excels at the treatment of their upper and lower extremity injuries. Matt is trained in the Graston Technique and Kinesiotaping.


  1. Reinking, M. (2012). Tendinopathy in athletes. Physical Therapy in Sport, 13(1), 3-10.
  2. Sharma, P., & Maffulli, N. (2005). Tendon Injury and Tendinopathy. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, 87(1), 187-202.
  3. Skjong, C. C., Meininger, A. K., & Ho, S. S. (2012). Tendinopathy Treatment: Where is the Evidence? Clinics in Sports Medicine, 31(2), 329-350.