Your customized treatment plan will include everything you need to heal quickly and thoroughly. This may start with over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, along with the R.I.C.E. method, which you can do at home:
- Rest the joint that’s injured
- Ice to help pain and swelling
- Compress the joint with a bandage
- Elevate the joint
When you’re first injured, ice is a better choice than heat for the first three days because it numbs pain and reduces swelling. Ice the area for 15 minutes every four to six hours, using a towel or cloth between the ice and your skin.
After three days, heat may provide better benefit for chronic tendonitis pain because it increases blood flow and relaxes muscles.
Your treatment plan may also include other conservative treatment:
- Corticosteroid injection. Your doctor injects a corticosteroid medication around the injured tendon to reduce inflammation and ease pain.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected muscle-tendon unit.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. A new treatment that uses injections of your own platelet blood cells to speed healing in chronic tendon injuries like tennis elbow.
- Sports massage is helpful for some joints.
Treatments for chronic tendonitis
For chronic tendonitis that is not responding to treatment, your provider may recommend a minimally invasive procedure:
Dry needling. This procedure involves making small holes in the tendon with a fine needle to stimulate factors involved in tendon healing.
Ultrasonic treatment. This minimally invasive procedure uses a small incision to insert a special device that removes tendon scar tissue with ultrasonic sound waves.
For a serious injury or severe chronic tendonitis, your provider may recommend an arthroscopic or open surgery procedure.