Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Using an ice pack can help relieve tendonitis symptoms.

Using an ice pack can help relieve tendonitis symptoms.
beginning of content


3-minute read

What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis (also called tendinitis or tendinopathy) is an irritated or inflamed tendon. Tendons are the bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones and help the body to move.

Tendonitis can develop in many places in the body, but is most common in the shoulder (rotator cuff), elbow (triceps tendon), wrist and ankles (Achilles tendon).

It can be acute (sudden-onset), such as tendonitis caused by a sports injury, or chronic (longer term), when a tendon gradually deteriorates, usually due to overuse or repetition.

What are the symptoms of tendonitis?

The main symptoms of tendonitis are:

  • pain and tenderness in the affected tendon, which is often worse when you move it
  • swelling
  • a grating sensation as the tendon moves
  • a lump on the tendon
  • weakness in the affected area
  • decreased range of motion

When should I see my doctor?

If you have symptoms of tendonitis that don’t get better after a few days’ rest, you should seek medical attention.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is tendonitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis of tendonitis is usually straightforward. A doctor is likely to examine the affected area and ask about how you injured the tendon. Imaging tests such as MRI and ultrasounds may also be necessary.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How is tendonitis treated?

The condition often gets better with rest, but treatment may be needed if the pain persists. The best treatment will depend on which tendon is affected.

Tendonitis often only lasts a few days, but can last for longer. If you have a sore tendon, it’s important to rest it. You can apply ice packs and take pain-relief medication, and in some cases, using a brace can be helpful.

To prevent swelling, avoid hot baths, heat packs, alcohol and massages for the first few days. When it’s not painful, try to keep moving so the tendon doesn’t become stiff.

Rehabilitation exercises, as suggested by a doctor or physiotherapist, may also help you recover full movement and function.

If the problem does not get better, you may need treatments such as shock wave therapy (a physiotherapy technique), and injections of corticosteroids or other medications to reduce inflammation. In a small number of cases, surgery may be required.

Can tendonitis be prevented?

If you’ve had tendonitis before, you can help prevent further injury by making sure you warm up and warm down before and after exercising, learning correct techniques if you play a sport, and strengthening muscles in the affected area.

You may also need an ergonomic assessment of your workspace and adjust your chair, keyboard and desktop to help protect your joints and tendons from excessive strain.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2021

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Achilles tendinitis -

Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It can be caused by overly tight calf muscles and excessive uphill or downhill running, amongst other things.

Read more on myDr website

Achilles tendinopathy - Better Health Channel

People who run regularly seem to be susceptible to Achilles tendonitis

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Tendinopathy (Tendonitis) - Better Health Channel

Most cases of tendonitis recover completely, but severe untreated tendonitis can lead to rupture of the tendon.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Posterior tibial tendon injury -

Posterior tibial tendonitis occurs when the posterior tibial tendon becomes inflamed or torn, causing pain on the inside of the shin, ankle or foot.

Read more on myDr website

Leg (knee to ankle) - superficial posterior view -

View the calf muscles and achilles tendon in this illustration of the lower leg.

Read more on myDr website

Shoulder impingement syndrome -

Shoulder impingement syndrome is caused by pinching of the supraspinatus tendon and bursa between the upper arm bone and roof of the shoulder.

Read more on myDr website

Rotator cuff injury -

Rotator cuff injury is usually a strain or tear of the rotator cuff - the group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place.

Read more on myDr website

Tennis elbow -

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition where the outside portion of the elbow becomes painful and the pain may radiate into the forearm and wrist.

Read more on myDr website

Sever's disease - Better Health Channel

Sever's disease is a common cause of heel pain, particularly in the young and physically active.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Osteoarthritis explained

Knee pain, hip pain, aching joints: these common complaints can be caused by osteoarthritis. Find out how it can be managed.

Read more on NPS MedicineWise website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.