9 Treatment Options For Tendonitis

Rest

Rest the injured area, and avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort.

Consider using crutches to avoid putting weight on your foot. Your doctor can tell you if crutches are appropriate for you.

Wear proper footwear at all times. This includes shoes that fit well and have good support. Don’t walk around in bare feet, especially on hard surfaces like concrete or tile floors.

Keep your foot raised above the level of your heart as often as you can (when sitting or lying down). This will help decrease swelling and pain caused by excess fluid in the tissues of your foot.”

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is a key treatment for tendonitis. Cold reduces inflammation and pain, which means it can also help prevent further damage from occurring to the affected area. You can use cold therapy several times a day, but you shouldn’t do it more often than every two to three hours.

You can use an ice pack or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel as cold compresses. Never apply ice directly to the skin; this may cause frostbite! Wrap the ice pack or frozen vegetables in a wet, thin towel and position it over the injured tendon. Leave the cold compress on for 15 minutes at a time; any longer could result in tissue damage.

Compression

One of the most common and effective home remedies for tendonitis is compression. This can be done with a compression bandage tied tightly around the affected area or with a store-bought sleeve. The tightness will reduce swelling, but should not cut off circulation. It’s a good idea to use this in combination with cold therapy to reduce inflammation.

NSAIDs

NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which basically means they reduce inflammation and will help you fight off pain. Advil is the brand name of ibuprofen, but there are also many generic options available.

If you’re looking for a quick fix while you wait to see your doctor or try something more holistic (which we’ll cover later), NSAIDs can be extremely effective in treating tendonitis. 

These drugs can help you reduce the pain and discomfort associated with tendonitis, and they will also reduce inflammation and lower your body temperature. However, these should not be used long term because they have potential side effects like stomach aches or ulcers. You can find NSAIDs over-the-counter, or ask your doctor for a prescription if they aren’t helping with the pain.

Glucocorticoid Injections

Before starting any new treatment, it’s important to consult your doctor. Each of these options work in different ways and can have side effects. Your physician will be able to recommend a treatment based on the severity and cause of your tendonitis.

Glucocorticoid injections are a type of steroid injected directly into the area surrounding the affected tendon. These injections may help reduce inflammation and pain. Although they are not considered a permanent fix, they can provide temporary relief in some patients with limited mobility. Long-term use is discouraged because they may also cause side effects, such as tendon weakening, skin thinning and nerve damage.”

PRP injections

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are a popular treatment for both acute and chronic tendon injuries, such as tennis elbow or Achilles tendinopathy.

PRP is derived from your own blood, which is drawn and then processed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from other parts of the blood. The platelets contain growth factors that promote healing, says Dr. Levine.

PRP injections are relatively cheap—around $300 to $500 per injection—and safe, since they’re made from your own blood, Dr. Levine says. However, they’re not as effective as other treatments like shockwave therapy or surgery, and not all insurance plans cover them.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment which involves inserting fine needles into the skin. It has been shown to be effective in treating tendonitis. Acupuncture can help to reduce pain and inflammation, and may also help to improve your range of motion. 

Although there is limited clinical evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for tendonitis, it is generally considered to be safe and can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as physiotherapy.

If you are considering acupuncture for your tendonitis, it is important that you choose an acupuncturist who is licensed, trained and experienced in the field. Your acupuncturist will need a full medical history from you before starting treatment. They will insert needles at specific points in order to stimulate nerves and muscles, which will have a healing effect.

Physical Therapy

Continuing to exercise and move the area in a controlled, progressive way is an important part of physical therapy for tendonitis. Your physical therapist will design a customized treatment program for you, and it will most likely take place in a clinic or fitness facility. It may involve:

  • Exercises for strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Specific stretching exercises that target the affected muscle group(s)
  • Gentle massage techniques to encourage blood flow around the injury site

It’s normal to experience some pain during your physical therapy sessions; however, if the pain becomes too intense or affects your range of motion, be sure to let your therapist know so he/she can adjust your treatment plan accordingly.

In addition to regular appointments with your physical therapist, he/she may suggest performing certain stretches and exercises at home between sessions.

Surgery

We’ll talk about surgery last, since it’s a treatment option that should only be considered if other options—including rest and physical therapy—have failed. Surgery can come with a lengthy rehab period, and it’s usually expensive.

However, when surgery is needed to treat tendonitis, it usually involves the removal of damaged tissue (such as inflamed tendon sheaths) or the repair of a torn or ruptured tendon. In some cases, surgery may involve the shortening of tendons to alleviate strain on them. Surgery is just one part of your larger recovery process; you’ll also need to wear a brace and undergo physical therapy afterwards.

The bottom line is that you can probably avoid surgery with time and basic treatments.

Fortunately, most cases of tendonitis do not require surgery. The goal of initial treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain. Resting the affected area and applying ice are often sufficient to achieve this goal. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can also help. 

If the pain is severe or persistent, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection at the site of your injury. If you have tried conventional treatments for several months without success, you may consider Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections, which helps build up the damaged connective tissue in your injured tendons and ligaments. 

Acupuncture is another option if you would like to avoid surgery and injections. Your practitioner will insert thin needles into your skin at strategic points on your body to reduce inflammation and stimulate healing in your injured tendon. Physical therapy can help strengthen muscles around an injury while improving range of motion and flexibility in a weak joint or tendon, but it should only be considered after acute pain has subsided with rest and other basic treatments.