When To See A Doctor For Your Tendinitis Pain
The vast majority of tendinitis cases may not require medical intervention. Most cases will resolve with self-care at home with rest, simple physical therapy, and over-the-counter medications. However, tendinitis can worsen for some. But when do you know you need to see a doctor for your tendinitis pain?
Severe Tendinitis Symptoms
For many, tendinitis is a slight annoyance that heals up without a lot of fuss relatively quickly; however, some cases may progress. Some warning signs to look out for are a rapid increase in pain, a sudden inability to move a joint, redness or swelling around the joint, fever, or chills. If you are experiencing fever and chills this is a sign that you likely have an infection. If this is the case, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately. Long-term tendinitis that does not improve could portend microtears or worse. This is when it might be a good idea to seek a professional evaluation.
What To Expect When You See A Doctor For Tendonitis
When seeing a doctor for your tendinitis your doctor will usually be able to diagnose the condition based on a physical assessment. A physical assessment will include palpitations of the affected area and an assessment of the range of movement of the joint by moving the joint through a series of positions. (That is, it should include a physical exam.)
Some common questions doctors ask during a visit may include the following:
- Where do you feel pain?
- When did the pain begin?
- Did the pain begin suddenly or did it gradually build up?
- What kind of work do you do?
- What kinds of hobbies or recreational activities do you participate in?
- Does the pain occur or worsen during these activities?
- Have you recently experienced a fall or other injury?
- What at-home treatments have you tried?
- Did these treatments have any effect on the pain or range of movement?
- Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?
X-rays and other imaging tests may be ordered to rule out other conditions that might be causing your symptoms. For example, some cases of tendonitis are so advanced that spurs of bone actually form within the substance of the tendon. Blood and liquid samples from the joints may be taken to determine the presence of an infection.
Although your doctor will likely not ask you, your diet is extremely important for tendon health. The more of a plant-based diet, with large amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances in the foods, the better.
If you have already tried at-home treatments like RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and over-the-counter pain medications, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatment methods including:
Corticosteroids – These steroids can quickly decrease inflammation and pain. This method is not recommended for chronic tendinitis that lasts over three months as it may increase the risk of rupturing the tendon. Actually, we believe that steroids should likely be a last resort in general. Steroids cause a host of changes throughout the system and should not be used lightly.
Physical therapy – Physical therapy sessions with a professional therapist will help you practice targeted exercises to relieve and strengthen your tendons. A good PT will also understand the intricate interconnections of tendon and connective tissue throughout the body and will help you to take advantage of those.
Surgery – Tendinitis rarely requires surgery and is only recommended for those with severe cases that do not respond to other noninvasive options.