Tendinitis - Treatment

Tendinitis is best treated by a series of steps known as RICE. The four letters in this acronym stand for:

  • R est
  • I ce
  • C ompression
  • E levation

The best way to apply ice is with ice water in a bag. The water insures that the cold will be applied directly to the skin. Chemical ice packs are not advised. They are too cold to use directly on the skin.

An elastic wrap, such as an Ace bandage, can be used to provide compression. Compression is a means of reducing swelling and keeping the joint in its proper position. In some cases, a splint may be used to keep the joint from moving.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also be used to reduce pain and swelling. Common NSAIDs are aspirin, acetaminophen (trade name Tylenol), and ibuprofen (trade names Advil, Motrin). When these medications are not effective, corticosteroids drugs may be used. Corticosteroids also reduce inflammation and swelling but are usually injected directly into the joint that has been damaged.

In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. One purpose of surgery is to remove and/or reconstruct the damaged tendon. Another purpose of surgery may be to remove calcium buildups in the joint. Calcium tends to

A classical example of tendinitis is tennis elbow, caused by repetitive swinging of the arm. (© 1994 Jerry Wachter. Reproduced by permission of Photo Researchers, Inc.)
A classical example of tendinitis is tennis elbow, caused by repetitive swinging of the arm. (© 1994
Jerry Wachter
. Reproduced by permission of
Photo Researchers, Inc.

collect in joints that are chronically (continuously) affected with tendinitis and may restrict the joint's ability to move normally.

Alternative Treatment

Hydrotherapy is sometimes effective in treating tendinitis. Warm water helps injured tissue to relax and begin healing. Acupuncture has also been used to treat the disorder. Very gentle forms of massage may also relieve pain and increase mobility in the joint. Finally, increasing the intake of certain foods that are rich in anti-oxidants (such as carrots) may help reduce inflammation.

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