Treatment of Bursitis and Tendinitis
Bursitis and tendinitis are common, painful inflammatory conditions generally caused by overuse. Usually short lived, these conditions respond well to rest, compression and anti-inflammatory drugs sometimes coupled with physical therapy.
Healing an injured bursa or tendon involves rest, compression, and anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen. Physical therapy is often helpful. Surgery is usually only recommended as a last resort.
A long rest from the activity (gardening, tennis, running, for example) that aggravates the condition is necessary to heal small tears in the tendon. Depending on the severity of the problem. a few weeks or months of rest may be necessary to encourage healing and prevent further injury.
In some cases, such as tennis elbow, your doctor may recommend a band to compress the forearm muscle. The band should provide some pain relief and limit the pull of the tendon on the bone. Other devices, such as an orthotic foot support in the shoe for the ankle and foot, or splints for the knee or hand, can help reduce stress to the affected area.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) also can help relieve pain. Be sure to take these medications exactly as directed to avoid potentially dangerous side effects.
If your tendinitis does not improve, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection. These injections may provide short-term relief for some forms of tendinitis but can also lead to weakening or rupture of the tendon, particularly weight-bearing tendons such as those in the ankle, arch of the foot or knee.
Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who will show you gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. Physical therapy can help you maintain strength and function, and help prevent further limitations in joint movement.
Surgery usually isn't necessary but can be a final option, if there is no improvement after 6 to 12 months. The surgery repairs damage and relieves pressure on the tendons or bursae. In the case of a torn tendon in the leg or knee, after surgery, you will need to wear a cast or brace to immobilize the leg for 3 to 6 weeks, while using crutches. For a partial tear, you may be able to wear a cast without needing surgery.
After surgery, you will undergo rehabilitation to restore your ability to bend and straighten the knee and strengthen the leg, to prevent injury. The program may last up to 6 months. You can return to many activities before you are through with the program.
Preventing Bursitis and Tendinitis
To help prevent bursitis and tendinitis, or to stop it from reoccurring:
- Warm up and stretch before strenuous exercise.
- When starting a new activity, begin slowly and gradually increase physical demands.
- Don’t be a “weekend warrior.” If you are otherwise sedentary during the week, engaging in vigorous exercise and sports only on the weekend to keep in shape can be harmful to your body.
- Don’t stay in one position for too long. Take rest breaks or change positions every 20–40 minutes.
- If an activity causes you pain, stop!
- Use cushioning for joints, such as foam for kneeling, or elbow pads. Use gloves to increase the gripping surface of tools. Use grip tape or an oversized grip for golf clubs.
- When handling heavy tools, use both hands.
- Use a two-handed backhand in tennis.