Below is the text of an online article I wrote not too long ago. If you’re under the impression that you have tendonitis but it seems like it’s taking an awfully long time to get better, have a look and see what you think. (Or you can just take my quick and easy tendon test.)
Tendonitis is one of the most common ailments around. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, tens of thousands of workers suffer from tendonitis and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) like carpal tunnel syndrome every year.
The “itis” in tendonitis actually is a medically precise term that means “inflammation”. Here are some quick and easy tests to determine if you have tendonitis, or if it’s really another condition like tendonosis (which means degeneration of the tendon).
1. Did you have some injury/trauma at the location of your pain? Or has your pain developed slowly over time? Example: If you fell and banged your knee and then experienced pain in the joint, you may have tendonitis there. But if you’re a runner and started noticing a slight pain that has gradually become worse over the course of months, then most likely you’re suffering from tendonosis, not tendonitis.
2. Is the pain recurring? Have you “fixed” it once, only to have it come back a few weeks or months later? Inflammation is generally a short-term response to some sort of injury or infection in the body. If you hurt yourself or become sick for some reason, inflammation helps your body to heal. But once the job is done, the inflammation goes away. (Think about the last time you got a splinter in your finger.) If you have taken aspirin or some other pain medication, rested the affected area, and thought that it was healed only to have the pain come back once you started back at your activity, you probably do not have tendonitis.
3. Has the pain been there constantly for a long time (more than a few weeks)? This is very similar to the above point. If you are suffering from long-term pain in your wrists, shoulder, knee, etc., and especially if you have not experienced any injury or infection in those places, odds are that you do not have tendonitis, but tendonosis.
4. Is the area hot to the touch? Is it red? Is there any swelling? These are three of the five classic symptoms of inflammation, and have been known since ancient times. If the painful area isn’t hot, or red, or swollen, it’s likely not inflamed, which – again – means you don’t have tendonitis. At the risk of boring you, the odds are overwhelmingly that it’s tendonosis, which requires a whole different approach to treatment.
There are some legitimate cases of tendonitis out there, but most people (doctors included) tend to confuse tendonitis with tendonosis. Think about the above points and decide for yourself which one you have.
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