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

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

Home care

  • Some people find relief with ice packs. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a thin towel or cloth before using. Don't put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • 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 it doesn't treat inflammation. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, or take blood thinners, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.

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

Follow-up care

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

When to get medical advice

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

  • Redness over the painful area

  • More pain or swelling at the joint

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

  • Chills

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