6 Types of Tendonitis Prone to Irritation

Tendonitis can occur in any tendon, but it tends to occur most commonly in one of a small handful of the hundreds of tendons scattered throughout the body. There are a few reasons these particular tendons are prone to irritation.

  • Repetitive activities: Some tendons are particularly prone to inflammation because of specific repetitive activities. The may include the rotator cuff tendons in people who are frequently lifting objects overhead or wrist tendons in people who use their hands continuously for work.
  • Less ease of avoidance: Sometimes it's easy to rest a particular body part, but at other times it's nearly impossible. Tendons around the ankle joint can be aggravated with every step you take.
  • Anatomic variation: Tendon damage can also be the result of problems with the blood supply to the area of concern. In these situations, poor blood supply within the so-called "watershed zone" of the tendon can lead to a tendency for problems.

Once you have identified the specific type of tendonitis that is causing your symptoms, treatment can be targeted to address this specific problem. Not every type of tendonitis responds to the same treatments, and knowing the exact source of your discomfort can help to address the problem. Listed below, you'll find some of the most common types of tendonitis, along with links to information about treatments that may be effective for each type.


Achilles Tendonitis

achilles ankle tendon
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Achilles tendonitis causes pain and swelling in the back of the heel. People with this condition often complain of pain and stiffness and feel a lump behind the ankle joint. Achilles pain often loosens up with some gentle activity but tends to worsen as activities are increased. Understanding this common problem can help with treatment and help to avoid serious complications such as Achilles tendon rupture. Achilles tendonitis is often treated with rest, ice application, and physical therapy.


Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

woman with ankle pain
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Occurring not far from the location of Achilles tendonitis, posterior tibial tendonitis is less common, but should be considered in people with symptoms of pain on the inner side of the ankle. Posterior tibial tendonitis typically causes pain with walking and can make it almost impossible to stand up on your toes. Left untreated, posterior tibial tendonitis can result in a flat foot. Standard treatments for posterior tibial tendonitis include temporary immobilization and physical therapy. Changes in footwear, such as supportive shoes and orthotics, can be helpful for initial symptoms.


Patellar (Kneecap) Tendonitis

Young woman feeling pain in her knee

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Patellar tendonitis, or inflammation of the patellar tendon, is a condition often called jumper's knee. This condition causes pain and swelling directly under the kneecap and is a common problem in basketball players and other athletes who perform repeated jumping activities. Treatment of patellar tendonitis usually consists of rest and anti-inflammatory medication. The most challenging part for many athletes is avoiding activities that specifically re-aggravate this condition. Recent studies have investigated the use of newer treatments such as PRP injections for this condition.


Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

shoulder pain
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Many patients who have pain in their shoulder are told by their doctor they have shoulder bursitis or rotator cuff tendonitis. This common cause of shoulder pain is the result of irritation to the tendons that help to lift the arm away from your side, as well as inflammation of the bursa that surrounds those tendons. Treatment of rotator cuff tendonitis can almost always be accomplished with non-surgical treatments, although in some rare situations surgery may become necessary.


Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Photo of a man holding his elbow.

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Tennis elbow is a common cause of elbow pain due to irritation of the tendons over the outside of the elbow joint. Commonly associated with people who play tennis, lateral epicondylitis can occur in people who perform other sports or repetitive activities of the wrist and elbow. The tendon condition occurring in patients with tennis elbow typically is characterized by micro-tears of the tendon called ​tendinosis. Avoiding aggravating activities is clearly the most important aspect of treatment, and strengthening exercises in physical therapy can be helpful. Injections for tennis elbow are controversial, but often used for treatment.


Wrist Tendonitis

wrist pain
Andrew Bret Wallis / Getty Images

Wrist tendonitis is a common problem that can cause pain and swelling around the wrist joint. Wrist tendonitis is due to inflammation of the tendons and often involves fluid accumulation in the tendon sheath. Limiting wrist movement with short-term splinting is often very helpful in treatment of this condition. One of the most important aspects is to identify the tendon or tendons that are causing the problem so that treatment can be targeted. Splinting will not be effective if the problematic tendons are not being rested. Treatment of wrist tendonitis usually does not require surgery.

Treatment of Tendonitis

Once the type of tendonitis is identified, a more targeted approach to treatment can be pursued. The good news is that tendonitis symptoms can almost always be resolved with non-invasive treatments, and only in rare circumstances do they become more persistent and difficult to manage.

A Word From Verywell

Tendonitis is among the most common orthopedic conditions for which people seek treatment. There are hundreds of tendons throughout your body, any of which can become inflamed. That said, certain tendons are much more prone to developing problems related to this inflammation. With time and medical attention, however, these problems can be treated.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.