A tendon is the thick fibrous cord that joins muscle to bone and allows joints to move. When a tendon becomes inflamed, it is called tendonitis. This can occur from overuse, injury, or infection. This usually involves the shoulders, forearm, wrist, hands and feet. Symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness to the touch. Moving the joint increases the pain.

It takes 4 to 6 weeks or more for tendonitis to heal. It is treated by preventing motion of the tendon, occasionally with a splint or brace, and the use of anti-inflammatory medicine.

Home care

  • Some people find relief with ice packs. These can be crushed or cubed ice in a plastic bag or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin towel. Other people get better relief with heat. This can include a hot shower, hot bath, or a moist towel warmed in a microwave. Try each and use the method that feels best, for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day.

  • Rest the inflamed joint and protect it from movement.

  • You may use over-the-counter ibuprofen or naproxen to treat pain and inflammation, unless another medicine was prescribed. If you can't take these medicines, acetaminophen may help with the pain, but does not treat inflammation. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.

  • As your symptoms improve, begin gradual motion at the involved joint.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider if you are not improving after 5 to 7 days of treatment.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Redness over the painful area

  • Increasing pain or swelling at the joint

  • Fever lasting 24 to 48 hours or chills, or as advised by your healthcare provider

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