Tendonitis is the inflammation (“-itis”) of a tendon, usually in one of your joints. Our tendons are what attach our muscles to our bones or to other organs, such as attaching the tiny muscles around the eye to the eyeball so it can move. Tendons are thick and fibrous, and when they are injured or pulled, the resulting inflammation can cause symptoms of pain and tenderness.
Common causes of tendonitis include overuse of the joints, particularly the ones in your shoulders, knees, and elbows. Some examples of common tendonitis injuries are swimmer’s shoulder, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and jumper’s knee.
So, is your joint pain due to arthritis, or is it actually tendonitis? Only a health professional can accurately diagnose the condition, and the doctor will perform the following steps in order to determine whether your pain or injury is due to tendonitis, arthritis, or something else.
Steps in Diagnosing Tendonitis
Doctors are trained not to make assumptions about a patient’s condition without going through a series of thoughtful steps, including using the following methods:
Review of Medical History
Your physician will first ask you about whether you have any underlying health conditions because an underlying condition frequently causes or radiates as pain. The doctor will then ask you about when the pain started, what activity preceded the symptoms, and what the pain feels like.
The physician will then ask about what treatments you’ve had in the past for similar symptoms, what you’ve been taking to treat the pain, and whether you have had an injury or surgery in the same area. Other possible questions include when the area hurts most and what you have been doing to provide relief.
The next step in the process of diagnosis is that your doctor will check for signs of infection, such as redness and swelling. The physician will use their hands to feel the skin at the painful area, check for physical symptoms, and determine whether the injury is limiting your range of motion in that joint.
The doctor will likely ask you to move that joint so they can evaluate your ability to move it. The physical examination rules out other conditions such as bursitis, which is inflammation of the bursae sacs around the joint.
The doctor may then request further testing, and the tests will depend on the symptoms you are experiencing. The diagnostic imaging scan that is most often ordered by a doctor if the doctor suspects tendonitis is usually an X-ray.
An X-ray is the fastest, least expensive, and easiest medical scan to perform, and it is actually performed in this case in order to rule out other possible causes – such as arthritis, stress fractures, or infection. If necessary, the doctor may also request an MRI scan to confirm the extent of the injury.
Orthopedic Physicians in Central Maryland
Here at the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland, our orthopedic specialists are experts at diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal pain and injury of all kinds, including tendonitis. Our advanced orthopedic facilities allow us to provide comprehensive treatment, from diagnosis to rehabilitation. Our goal is to help you fully regain your function and mobility.
If you would like to schedule a consultation, contact the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland today by calling us at (410) 644-1880 or toll-free at (855) 4MD-BONE (463-2663), or fill out our appointment request form online now. It’s time to get past the joint pain and back into life!